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Triple Win Property Management Blog

Resident Benefits Package: How to Increase Revenue and Reduce Costs

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

Calendar icon May 1, 2024

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10 Steps to Onboard New Tenants

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

Calendar icon March 20, 2024

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Property manager marking startup checklist

How to Start a Resident-focused Property Management Company in 13 Steps [Startup Checklist]

From the Second Nature perspective, focusing on a high-quality resident experience is the secret sauce to standing out in a crowded property management industry. That’s because happy residents lead to higher retention rates, more on-time payments, better care for the property, and shorter vacancies. Our property management checklist can help ensure you build that strategy into the DNA of your company from the beginning. This property management startup checklist is intended to help you orient your company toward a resident focus from the get-go. In the absence of a checklist, it’s all too easy to get caught up in real estate and rental property considerations that do not reflect long-term winning conditions for all stakeholders. 1. Write a Property Management Business Plan In some ways, a property management business plan is a document intended for potential clients and investors. And certainly, it can help you concretize start-up costs and get funding for the business (learn more on what’s needed to get SBA financing). But in many more important respects, it’s a structured foundation for you to gain insights into what residents are looking for, which in turn will help crystalize the type of clients you want, what types of property you’ll manage, and what kind of property management company you are. You’ll find a property management business plan template here, but in broad terms, here is a framework of the distinct components: Executive Summary Company Overview Market Analysis (Industry, Customer, and Competitive Analysis) Services Marketing Plan & Sales Strategy Operations Management Management Team Financial Plan Growth Opportunities Each component will lay the foundation for your future resident-focused success. 2. File Your Property Management Business In order to correctly file and pay your business taxes, you’ll need to register your property management business and choose a type of legal entity. This step is important, as it can also impact the protection/exposure of any personal assets, associated paperwork, or even the way in which you raise funds for your business. Note that it is certainly possible to change your business structure once it's established, but this can be a convoluted and high-stakes process. For property management businesses, different legal entity options are possible. Common legal structures include Limited Liability Company (LLC), S-Corporation (S-Corp), and C-Corporation (C-Corp). An LLC offers personal asset protection, while S-Corps and C-Corps provide additional legal safeguards. The choice involves considerations such as pass-through taxation for LLCs (where business income passes directly to the business owner's personal tax return) or potential double taxation for C-Corps, which can be mitigated via accounting measures. Other options include sole proprietorships as well as partnerships, where taxes and business liabilities are the responsibilities of the individual owners. Once you’ve identified your new business for tax purposes, you can get a free Employer Identification Number from the IRS. Which type of legal entity you select ultimately depends on your appetite for control, flexibility, and complexity. Learn more about how to structure your property management company. 3. Setup Bank Account for Your Property Management Business Opening a business bank account will help you build credit for your own property management company, maintain separation between your personal and business finances, and streamline tax accounting. It may also be required by law, depending on state laws applicable to your business structure. Some banks offer account features, flat fee or zero fee structures, and services that are particularly beneficial for new businesses and small businesses, so it is worth taking the time to shop around rather than defaulting to the same bank you use for your personal accounts. 4. Setup Accounting for Your Property Management Business 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. Not all accounting is equal. Property management accounting deals specifically with the financial management of rental properties. It helps property managers track rental income, manage expenses, handle tenant deposits, and produce financial reports. Essentially, property management accounting helps you maintain accurate and comprehensive financial records for each property you manage. Property management accounting consists of two components. The first is corporate accounting, which is similar to the kind of accounting done at any company. The second is trust accounting, which is specific to property management. This kind of accounting relates to the client funds that you hold, including security deposits, rent, and funds intended for property upkeep and repairs. Managing rental properties can be daunting when it comes to accounting and finance management, but that certainly doesn’t make it a show-stopper. Learn more about property management accounting, as well as accounting software and property management software that can make it significantly easier. 5. Obtain Required Licenses and Permits for Your Property Management Business The licenses and permits required for property management businesses vary depending on your location, but common requirements can include a real estate broker license (which often involves an exam-based accreditation as well as potential background checks), a property management license, a leasing agent license, and a business license, as well as any other locally required permits. 6. Secure Liability Insurance Liability insurance is important to keep your business running on solid foundations. In fact, it’s essential, as it protects not just you but your investor’s assets and your resident’s safety. At Second Nature, insurance is so important to us that we incorporate an insurance product into our resident benefits package. General liability insurance for property managers safeguards against potential financial liabilities arising from physical risks. It typically covers expenses related to repairs, replacements, legal fees, and medical bills, and is applicable to both residential and commercial properties. Coverage can include bodily injury, medical payments, physical damage, reputational harm, and even copyright infringement in relation to marketing efforts. Note that Second Nature's renter insurance program ensures 100% compliance and liability coverage protecting you, your property investors, and your residents. 7. Hire Your Team Hiring the right team has a huge impact on your ability to achieve the business targets you’ve established in your business plan. Note that “right” doesn’t simply mean “qualified.” That’s because who your employees are is fundamentally more important than what they’ve achieved. After all, you’re setting the stage for them to deliver the best work they’ve ever done in their careers to date. The hiring process begins by understanding what characteristics you’re looking for. For any given candidate, how do they build the new skills required to address new situations? How do they handle challenges when things get tough? And perhaps most importantly, what is their response to failure? Insights into these questions will help galvanize a people-focused approach that is truly a value-driven team. After all, at Second Nature, we want to generate value for ourselves, our investors, and our residents—and we want people who buy into that approach. Get more Second Nature hiring tips on building a people-focused team. 8. Create Solid Pricing Structure and Property Management Contracts Once you hire a team. establishing a good pricing structure for your business and creating all the legal documents required to run the business should be the priority. That's because the right approach can generate value beyond management fees for property managers, their investors, and their residents, which reflects Second Nature’s “triple win” focus. General rental property management fees include collecting the month’s rent, following up on arrears, organizing property maintenance and repairs, and keeping up-to-date on legal issues. Much of the profit in property management comes from driving better value for investors and residents, and pricing for that value. After all, people are willing to pay for better quality experiences in their homes. Additional fees, which will help drive company growth, should be communicated during the onboarding process and lease agreement. In other words, they are never about hidden markups. They’re about charging for value and driving great habits. Fees can be applied on the resident side (for instance, paper lease setup fees, lease renewal fees, late fees, or special programs fee) as well as on the investor side for a number of property management services (inspection fees, vendor screening fees, rent protection or eviction fees). Again, fees help you drive value for both your investors and your residents, and support your business at the same time. Note that because regulations vary across regions, it may not always be possible to charge fees for certain types of services. That's why it's important to discuss any fee and contract proposals with an attorney before implementing them. 9. Execute the Marketing Plan Set Out in Your Business Plan While it’s true that businesses thrive on referrals and word of mouth, it’s executing on your marketing plan that will help drive more consistent revenue — and help you capitalize on the market research you conducted to assemble your business plan. As with so many other things, the marketing landscape has changed enormously in just a short time. We’re now living in an era when an active, well managed online presence is critical. This means that a robust marketing strategy is more than simply managing a social media account (although this too is important). It also includes investing in search engine optimization for your website, executing on content creation and distribution strategies, conducting networking events, and advertising online. For optimal property management marketing, where work often stays within specific regional areas, it’s also important to maintain a presence in local business listings. 10. Network with Fellow Property Managers and Owners to Expand Your Business We touched on networking in the context of a marketing plan, but for new business owners in particular, networking can be a valuable source for those first few clients. There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities for establishing your business name, ranging from local vendor fairs to national property management conferences and events with thousands of attendees. In addition, there are numerous property management associations that provide opportunities for networking, education, and advocacy for property management professionals. The business and personal development opportunities available through such options present great avenues to expand and optimize your property management business. 11. Write a Resident Retention Strategy - and How You Can Improve the Resident Experience You should be thinking about the resident experience from the very start. After all, in an industry where churn is the norm, an effective retention strategy pays its own way. To be truly effective, however, it’s key to recognize that “resident retention” is not simply a one-dimensional number at the bottom of a spreadsheet. The “triple win” approach to resident retention asks the question: “How do we create experiences so good that residents never want to leave?” Answering that question maximizes residential property owner ROI and boosts property manager success. In other words: A win for residents is a win for investors is a win for property managers. In the same vein, we often hear from professional property managers that a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is a powerful way to retain residents over the long term. RBPs can help with resident satisfaction and resident retention rates. After all, a proactive, differentiating approach to resident retention means building experiences that people will pay and stay for. This is a useful lens with which to examine the full property manager/resident journey, from move-in to collecting rent payments to move-out, for opportunities to generate resident retention ideas—and deliver those wins. 12. Create SOPs to Handle Complaints, Disputes, and Requests Once you have the first few properties under your management, it’ll be important to ensure processes and procedures are in place to handle complaints, disputes, excessive maintenance requests, rent collection issues, and tenant problems. In such cases, rather than automatically assuming the resident is the problem, some property managers approach resident issues as behaviors that can be changed. That’s because the root cause is often addressable and the behavior changeable. This emphasis on the people element pays off — and lets you focus on how to adjust “bad” behavior through benefits and rewards, rather than just being transactional. This reframing aside, one of the best ways to deal with complaints and disputes is to avoid them in the first place, which often comes down to non-discriminatory tenant screening processes and background checks. Other standard operating processes include documenting all incidents and updates thoroughly, calling law enforcement in the case of illegal activity, implementing eviction processes if necessary, and staying current and compliant with local laws and regulations. 13. Create and Execute a Strategy to Improve the Resident Experience Once again, improving the resident experience goes a long way in retaining the residents and creating ancillary revenue streams. From the get-go, you can actively ensure great first impressions with services such as move-in concierges or coordinators. After all, a resident who's had a positive move-in experience is a happier one. Happier residents stay longer, pay on time, take care of the property, and make positive recommendations. Throughout the residential journey, other strategies for improving the resident experience include on-demand pest control, credit reporting, and resident rewards. Above all, one of the cornerstones of a great resident experience is responsiveness. This responsiveness is a two-way street! It covers improved maintenance service and response times, as well as opportunities for residents to provide feedback through resident surveys. By setting up this kind of feedback loop, you demonstrate to your residents that their voices matter, which instills a sense of ownership and care that often lead to better property care and longer tenancies. Property Management Startup Checklist It’s famously said that property managers are in the business of helping many different people with many different things. And sometimes, this can feel like a lot to tackle, especially at the startup phase. That’s why we’ve assembled this property management startup checklist to help you begin: Write a Property Management Business Plan File Your Property Management Business Set Up a Bank Account for Your Property Management Business Set Up Accounting for Your Property Management Business Obtain Required Licenses and Permits for Your Property Management Business Secure Liability Insurance Obtain Required Licenses and Permits for Your Property Management Business Hire Your Team Create Solid Pricing Structure and Property Management Contracts Execute the Marketing Plan Set Out in Your Business Plan Network with Fellow Property Managers and Owners to Expand Your Business Write a Resident Retention Strategy — and How You Can Improve the Resident Experience Create SOPs to Handle Complaints, Disputes, and Requests Create and Execute a Strategy to Improve the Resident Experience How Second Nature Helps Run a Property Management Company Profitably At Second Nature, we focus on creating “triple win” experiences for residents, property managers, and investors. This helps property management companies go beyond transactional basics and create new, professional, and holistic experiences that generate growth all around. We didn’t invent this stuff, and we’re certainly not rowing against the tide! Companies like Google, Uber, and Amazon have already changed how consumers think. A convenient experience is no longer a luxury—it’s an expectation. Accordingly, for property management profitability and growth, experience is the winning strategy. That’s the insight that led us to create the Second Nature resident benefits package (RBP). It’s a foundational tool to create unforgettable resident experiences and keep your property management company on a growth path. Learn more now.

Calendar icon February 13, 2024

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Property manager handing new residents the keys to their new home

What is Security Deposit Insurance? Pros and Cons [+Best Providers]

Security deposits are an industry standard for property management. But new innovations are helping reduce some of the traditional pain points associated with security deposits. Here’s the thing; For property managers and investors, security deposits provide critical protection from financial fallout if the rental property is damaged. For renters, though, paying a security deposit upfront can pose a prohibitive cost, and an expensive security deposit can make it harder for the property manager to fill vacancies. Enter security deposit insurance – a modern solution that's reshaping rental agreements. We’re diving into everything you need to know about security deposit insurance: how it's different from the traditional security deposit, the pros and cons, and the scoop on the best providers out there. So, whether you're a seasoned property management business owner or just getting started, we’ve got you covered. (And that was an insurance pun.) What is security deposit insurance? Security Deposit Insurance is a coverage that residents purchase, which covers potential damages or unpaid rent during their lease period. Instead of paying a hefty upfront cash deposit, residents pay a fee for this insurance, which typically costs a fraction of the traditional deposit amount. For example, imagine a tenant moving into a home where the usual security deposit is $1,000. With security deposit insurance, instead of paying this amount upfront, the tenant might pay an insurance fee of $50 each month for a 12-month lease. This fee provides coverage to the owner for the duration of the lease, similar to a standard deposit, but at a lower cost to the tenant. This system not only eases the financial burden for tenants but also provides property managers and owners with coverage against potential lease violations, making it a potentially attractive option for both parties. What is the difference between a traditional deposit and security deposit insurance? A traditional security deposit is a lump sum paid by the resident to the owner (or held by the property manager) at the beginning of the lease. It’s often the cost of one month’s rent or another negotiated amount. The security deposit acts as a safeguard for the property manager in case of any damage to the property by the end of the tenancy. If there is significant damage, the property manager and owner can withhold refunding the deposit, depending on local and state laws that govern the use of security deposits. Security deposit insurance, on the other hand, gives residents a way to avoid paying that large lump sum at the beginning of their lease. Instead, they can pay for insurance. Like any insurance policy, they pay a monthly premium for coverage. The premium will be considerably less than a one-time security deposit. When a resident has security deposit insurance, their property manager can file a claim to the insurance company over things like lost rent or damages. The resident doesn’t get any of their monthly payments back at move out. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of security deposit insurance. What are the benefits of security deposit insurance? Security deposit insurance provides benefits to renters, property managers (or a landlord), and property owners. Here are a few of the top benefits. 1. Reduces the upfront cost of move-in and protects residents' ability to pay rent We’ll just say it plainly: Moving is a huge, stressful life event that costs a LOT of money. One of the major costs of moving into a new rental home is the traditional security deposit. Renters may be paying two times or more the amount of monthly rent just to sign a lease. Security deposit insurance solves that upfront-cost challenge by providing a service at a much lower monthly cost. From the property management perspective, that means residents can keep more of their money to ensure they pay rent on time, and they may be happier to cover other fees like pet deposit fees, a resident benefits package fee, etc. 2. Helps reduce vacancies Because security deposit insurance removes one of the biggest financial barriers to signing a new lease, it can be a great way to reduce a property’s time on the market. By advertising that you accept security deposit alternatives like insurance, you can differentiate your properties on listings and fill them more quickly. 3. Covers unpaid rent This is one of the best benefits for property managers and owners. Traditional security deposits typically can’t be used until the end of a tenancy. But with security deposit insurance, property managers can file a claim over unpaid rent. The insurance typically will cover this. Some states allow property managers to cover missed rent payments with a security deposit, but some do not. If you’re in one of the states that don’t, you may want to consider allowing security deposit insurance. 4. Claims can be made at any time during the lease Like the coverage for unpaid rent, security deposit insurance can cover claims at any time throughout a resident’s lease. You don’t necessarily have to wait to be reimbursed for damage. What are the drawbacks of security deposit insurance? Of course, there are a few risks to security deposit insurance and reasons you may not want to make it an option for your residents. Here are some of the cons of security deposit insurance. 1. Not all claims will be accepted When you, as the property manager, submit a claim for coverage of unpaid rent or property damage, the insurance company may not decide to cover it. Each claim is evaluated at the time of loss to determine if coverage is applicable. Things like normal wear and tear are not covered. Plus, you’re not the one who gets to make the final decision. 2. Not all insurance providers or products are reliable This is true particularly because the industry itself is a newer innovation. Residents may pay monthly premiums but then find the coverage is not all that great. All of us have probably had some kind of experience like this with other types of insurance, too. Some claims aren’t covered, and some insurance companies promise a lot and deliver very little. 3. Residents are on the hook for monthly payments Generally, security deposit insurance is cheaper than a cash security deposit. But if the lease is long-term, the monthly payments may end up being more expensive than just paying a lump sum at the beginning of the lease. For property managers, you want to consider if it’s ideal for your residents to have an additional monthly fee they’re responsible for on top of rent. 4. It can be a hassle Nobody likes submitting or following up on insurance claims. It’s a hassle! The process is often clunky and slow and requires a lot of management. It may take weeks or months to get paid for a claim. Property managers may also need to put time and energy into educating residents or clients about how the security deposit insurance works and the differences in their options. (Or you could show them this article!) Best security deposit insurance providers Security deposit insurance is fairly new to the SFR property management world. Here are three of the best security deposit insurance products on the market right now. 1. LeaseLock LeaseLock is the category leader in this particular security deposit alternative space. In October 2023, the company surpassed $9 billion in insured leases. LeaseLock offers a modern solution in security deposit insurance, replacing traditional cash deposits with a unique insurance model. Their insurance coverage provides property managers with protection while easing the upfront financial burden for residents. The monthly cost to the resident is generally around $30, with $5,000 in coverage for unpaid rent and damage. 2. Obligo Obligo was launched in New York and helps property managers reduce their risks while making security deposits more affordable for renters. Residents pay a small monthly fee for the service while Obligo sets up secure billing authorization between property managers and the resident. The property manager is then authorized to charge the resident for damages up to a pre-set maximum. It’s essentially the same as the type of pre-authorization hold that a hotel might place on a guest’s credit card. Residents won’t be charged unless they cause damage or miss rent, and they will only be charged up to a certain amount. Some residents will not qualify for Obligo’s services, depending on credit rating, etc. The company has a high trust rating on Trustpilot. 3. Rhino Rhino offers a slightly less straightforward insurance model but is a leading solution in security deposit alternatives. Through a surety bond model, their service provides robust protection for property owners while significantly reducing move-in costs for residents. Rhino is sued in over two million homes in the U.S. and claims to save renters over 90% on moving costs. Some former customers complain about unreliable costs and being on the hook for claims. Final thoughts Security deposit insurance is reshaping the rental landscape, offering benefits for both residents and property managers. Providers like LeaseLock, Rhino, and Obligo are at the forefront of this change, providing innovative solutions that ease financial burdens and streamline rental transactions. As the industry evolves, these services may become a new standard in property management. The goal is to make life easier for renters, owners, and property managers. At Second Nature, our goal is the same. We help property managers provide the best residential services and solutions, all while building opportunities for ancillary revenue. We provide a package with solutions like renters insurance, credit reporting, and resident rewards, all built to help protect a resident’s financial stability and reduce risk to your property management company. Plus, it’s completely handled for you, so your team can focus on what they do best: manage your properties.

Calendar icon December 21, 2023

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10 Best Property Management Maintenance Software

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. Related: Best Single Family Property Management Software 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.

Calendar icon November 17, 2023

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Tenant Screening Tips for PMs: Streamline Tenant Background Checks

Screening renters is an essential part of a property manager’s job. But all too often, the approach is strictly transactional: Forms must be scanned and uploaded, data must be entered manually, and property managers and tenants alike can find the process cumbersome and frustrating. This legacy approach isn’t enough in today’s fast-moving experience economy. Companies like Google, Uber, and Amazon have changed how consumers think. Convenience isn’t a luxury anymore; it’s an expectation. And for a property management company, convenience can be a strategy. When approached through the lens of a holistic experience, tenant screening is one of the best ways to set yourself apart. Related: State of Resident Experience Study Tenant Screening Tips The first step to improving a process is to ensure you can structure it. What follows is a best-practice approach to tenant screening, complete with tips for success at every step. 1. Understand tenant screening laws With a Triple Win mindset, PMs will seek tools that help them remain objective and fair to all applicants. That’s why every professional PM should be familiar with tenant screening laws in their area. Tenant screening laws are regulations put in place to protect tenants from discrimination, unfair eviction, etc. They govern interactions between real estate investors, property managers, and tenants. One of the best-known regulations is the Fair Housing Act, which protects tenants from discrimination on the basis of: Race Color Religion National Origin/Ethnic Background Gender Familial Status Mental/Physical Disability 2. Create tenant screening criteria Creating tenant screening reports is an important part of the rental property management process. Here are the steps to take: Define your target market: Identify the type of tenants you want to attract based on factors such as property location, size, price, and amenities Set minimum requirements: Determine the minimum criteria that all potential tenants must meet, such as a certain credit score through ResidentScore or other tools, or income level. Consider additional factors: Other factors may be important to you, such as employment history, rental history, criminal background, and references. Establish a scoring system: Create a system to evaluate potential tenants based on the criteria you've established. For example, you may assign points for positive credit history or deduct points for a criminal record, taking care to evaluate each person individually and fairly. Apply the criteria consistently: Ensure that you apply the screening criteria consistently to avoid discrimination and potential legal issues. Review and update regularly: Review and update screening criteria regularly to ensure that they remain relevant and effective for your rental property. 3. Check credit report and background Some screening providers are leveraging financial data APIs or "open banking" tools to automate income and employment verification. Tenant screening services like Plaid, Finicity, Pinwheel, and more are being applied to rental screening and replacing manual document upload and review. You can also find tools for getting a full credit report and credit background. Credit reporting should be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). As identity fraud becomes more prevalent, identity verification tools are becoming more sophisticated. Some can even effectively identify past rent transactions in the bank account ledger. Most of these tools are being built for large apartment operators, but more innovation is coming to SFR, too. Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package includes a $1 million identity protection program and credit building for tenants. These programs protect your tenants and help draw people who want to build responsible financial security. 4. Verify employment and income A big question on every PM’s mind is how to evaluate a prospective tenants’ ability to pay rent. Is what matters the income? Credit history? The cash balance a tenant carries? Or just their history for prioritizing rent payments? The traditional (and oversimplified) answer is to slap on the widely accepted income-to-rent ratio of 3-to-1 or to look for a specific credit score. But neither of these tell the whole story of a tenant’s ability, or even likelihood, to pay rent and to pay on time. A much more telling number is a potential renter’s net income. Net income is true spending power. A net income of 2.5 or 3 times the monthly rent is a good starting point. But how do you quickly verify this information? Pay Stubs will work, but experienced property managers know a simple pay stub template is a Google search away. This is where an automated income verification tool can provide an advantage, reliability, and speed. You’ll have much more accurate insight into tenants’ ability to pay rent and get them verified in much less time. 5. Review rental history and evictions As a follow-up to background checks, property management companies should have a process for reviewing an applicant’s rental history and potential evictions. Don’t just accept a letter from previous landlords – call and ask about their experience. Getting their perspective is one of the best ways to check on rental and eviction history. 6. Check criminal record with multi-state search When it comes to tenant screening, one crucial aspect is conducting a criminal record check that includes a multi-state history report. This step is vital to safeguard you and your team from legal headaches or disruption down the road. A multi-state search provides a broader view of an applicant's history, as it covers more than just the state they currently reside in or are applying from. This is particularly important because individuals may have lived or committed offenses in different states. By implementing a comprehensive background check that spans multiple states, you can uncover any criminal history that might not be evident in a local or state-only check. This process helps in making informed decisions about potential tenants, ensuring you're not inadvertently overlooking important information that could affect the security of your property or the neighborhood. Of course, this doesn't mean denying anyone with a criminal record. Fair housing laws will have established rules on this that property managers should know well for their area. 7. Interview tenants before signing a lease Property managers should ensure someone on their team conducts an interview with potential tenants, particularly in SFR property management where lease terms are usually longer. Here is a list of questions that property managers may consider asking potential tenants during the screening process: What is your current occupation and monthly income? Have you ever been evicted from a rental property or broken a lease agreement? How long have you been at your current job, and what is your employer's contact information? Do you have any pets, and if so, what type and how many? What is your desired move-in date and lease length? Will you have any roommates or co-tenants, and if so, what are their names and contact information? Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or had any outstanding debts? Do you have a good rental history, and can you provide contact information for your previous landlords and previous addresses? Are you willing to undergo a tenant credit check and background check as part of the application process? Again, please note that investors and property managers should be careful not to ask discriminatory questions that could violate fair housing laws. Additionally, it may be helpful to provide potential tenants with information about the property, such as move-in costs, lease terms, and any rules or restrictions that apply to the rental property. After all, the property manager’s goal is to create an experience that caters to tenants in order to create the best value for their investors. 8. Follow a fair policy when accepting or rejecting tenants A consistent and objective set of screening criteria goes a long way to simplifying the acceptance or rejection process. Here are some steps to follow when accepting or rejecting rental applicants: Evaluate the applicant's information: Review the application and any supporting documentation, such as credit reports, employment verification, and rental history. You may also charge an application fee. Compare the applicant to your screening criteria: Compare the applicant's information to your established screening criteria and determine if they meet the minimum requirements. Consider any additional factors: Consider any additional factors that may impact the applicant's suitability as a tenant, such as their behavior during the application process, their responsiveness to communication, and any references provided. Communicate your decision: Communicate your decision to the applicant in writing, providing clear and specific reasons for your decision. Be sure to also inform the applicant of their rights to request a copy of an applicant’s credit report and to dispute any errors. Keep accurate records: Keep accurate records of your tenant screening process, including copies of all applications and supporting documentation, as well as notes on your evaluation of each applicant. Maintain consistency: Apply your screening criteria consistently to all applicants to avoid any potential discrimination claims. Remember, it is essential to treat all applicants fairly and to follow fair housing laws and state-specific regulations to avoid discrimination. Example tenant screening checklist Here is an example of a comprehensive tenant screening checklist template, based on the best tenant screening services: 1. Basic Information: Full name Current address Contact information (phone, email) 2. Income and Employment: Proof of income (pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns) Employment history (length of employment, job title, employer contact information) Gross income (should be 3 times the monthly rent) 3. Credit History: Credit score (should be above 650) Credit report (to check for bankruptcies, late payments, collections) Outstanding debts 4. Rental History: Previous rental history (landlord contact information, length of stay, reason for leaving, address history) Evictions (any prior evictions, eviction records, eviction reports) 5. Criminal Background: Criminal history (felony convictions, sex offender status) 6. References: Personal references (contact information for at least two personal references) Professional references (contact information for at least two professional references) 7. Other Factors: Pet ownership (type, size, breed, and number of pets) Smoking policy (whether or not smoking is allowed in the rental property) Other specific requirements (e.g. credit checks, criminal background checks, rental history checks, etc.) The criteria on this checklist may vary based on the specific needs and requirements of the investor or property manager – and local laws. Benefits of screening tenants Why screen tenants? The answer might seem obvious. You can Google “tenant screening,” and you’ll see any number of articles giving the common reasons for screening tenants: protecting your property, protecting your financial situation, etc. And yes, all of that is important. But elite property managers know that protecting yourself is the bare minimum. The best PMs consider the tenant screening process the first chance to make an impression and win the best tenants. Success is about creating and delivering the best experiences for tenants, investors, and property managers. At Second Nature, we call this the Triple Win. Property managers should be thinking: “How do we design the screening process for a Triple Win?” Here’s what we mean by that. A win for investors What do real estate investors want? Bottom line: To maximize their investment by having all residences occupied by good tenants. But there’s tension when you’re aiming to maximize investment. Investors have two primary needs when filling a rental property, and they can seem opposed: How do I select a quality tenant who will pay rent on time, stay a long time, take care of the home, and be generally cooperative? How do I fill the property as fast as possible? Every day a home is vacant, it generates zero revenue and incurs costs. Investors win when they have a screening process that can deliver quality tenants, fast. A win for tenants What do tenants want? Bottom line: To be approved quickly and easily. Think about when you’re applying for a job. The employer honestly can’t work too fast to get you in a good seat. The faster, the better. As we mentioned before, convenience is no longer a luxury; it’s an expectation. Tenants want to move quickly toward the lease agreement without too much effort. Therefore, building convenience into the screening process is a crucial strategy for a successful property manager to attract the best business. A win for property managers Professional property managers stand out by providing experiences that are consistent, convenient, and rewarding for investors and tenants. But they also need to design the process with the experience of their team in mind, too. PMs focused on a Triple Win can align qualified tenants’ desire for convenience with an investor’s desire to be protected from risky applicants and vacancy costs. As if that’s not enough of a challenge, they also need to accomplish this in a way that complies with fair housing regulations. Therefore, an enterprising property manager will design the screening process to create experiential value and better monetize each property. Ultimately a Triple Win for tenant screening is introducing speed, accuracy, and convenience to a legacy process. Let’s dive into that concept in the next section. Tenant screening services Tenant screening services can help perform identity verification, an assessment of the prospective tenant's financial situation, and evaluate any factors that may be relevant. They typically access information from a wide variety of sources to compile a current and precise tenant portrait. Most tenant screening services offer their services online, where property managers can supply the identifying information of an applicant to get a full report within minutes. Here are just a few: National Tenant Network TransUnion Experian Findigs Rent Butter Snappt Verifast Which tenant screening solution is right for you? When selecting a tenant screening solution, begin by assessing your specific scope as well as budget constraints. Bear in mind that some solutions are limited in scope in that they primarily provide credit reports, while others may be geared toward landlords rather than property managers. In all cases, seek out providers with reputable customer support (as indicated on popular software comparison sites as well as app download stores) and user-friendly interfaces to streamline the screening process. Additionally, consider any legal requirements or industry standards relevant to your situation. By weighing these factors, you can select a tenant screening solution that aligns with your requirements and helps mitigate some of the risks associated with property management. How does Second Nature help with the tenant screening process? Like we’ve said – and as most PMs recognize – legacy “tenant screening” systems are the worst. They’re clunky. They’re long and tedious. They require a ridiculous amount of manual work to upload pay stubs or other documents. Think about how seamless an experience it is to find a listing on Zillow. It works smoothly on desktop or mobile, and the app is clean, easy, and responsive. You can find 3D tours, self-showings, and all kinds of innovations happening in the discovery process. Then you hit "click to apply.” Whomp whomp. Suddenly, you hit a mediocre (or worse!) experience that feels a decade old or more. It can take days from that initial button click for submission, review, and official approval/declination. But imagine if this was all designed through an experience lens instead of an accounting or transactional lens. PMs who want to stand out will have a screening process that works like an Easy Button. So how might we make it as easy as possible for the best tenants to get approved same-day by the best property managers in the country? Think about your current screening system. You can see if a tenant paid rent, but can you see if they changed their filters, reported minor maintenance issues, how they treated and communicated with staff, what condition they left the property in, and the security deposit status? Do you have a Resident Benefits Package that attracts tenants who care about good habits and supports them in those habits? The screening process sets the tone and the standard for the rest of your relationship with a tenant. Property managers can be part of helping build good habits right from the start. Learn more about what tenants are looking for today and how PMs are innovating in response.

Calendar icon November 16, 2023

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Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Property Management

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. In fact, we conducted a casual Facebook poll to see what single-family property managers said about the frequency of their property inspections. Most PMs who responded said they conduct an annual inspection. A smaller amount said they conduct two inspections per year, and another group said they do it only when needed. A very small amount of property managers polled said they conduct quarterly inspections. (To get more community insights and tips like this, join our Triple Win Facebook Group.) 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.

Calendar icon November 15, 2023

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Property manager filling out rental inspection check list

Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist [Free Template]

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!

Calendar icon November 6, 2023

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How to Calculate Tenant Turnover and Tips to Reduce It

Tenant turnover is the process that occurs when a current tenant vacates a rental property, and a new tenant moves in. It’s just the natural process of residents moving in and moving out. Sometimes, it’s a sign of a challenging property, but often, it’s just a natural part of the renting journey. While tenant turnover is a standard part of the rental business, the downside is that it often comes with associated costs and potential revenue loss due to vacancy periods. Tenant turnover costs can exceed thousands of dollars per month and hurt your cash flow. Understanding the ins and outs of tenant turnover meaning is essential for effective property management and profitability. It’s key to reduce the time of a turnover and to know the average tenant turnover rate in your area. Second Nature's Outlook: "Tenant turnover” is an industry term used from time to time. But we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve the word "tenant." We’ve seen the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just philosophical, it also encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call renters “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. How to Calculate Tenant Turnover Rate Getting the tenant turnover rate calculation correct is essential for property managers and landlords to understand their property's performance and the effectiveness of their management strategies. The good news? The math isn’t complicated! Go through these three simple steps in our tenant turnover formula to get your rate: Determine the number of move-outs in a year: First, identify the total number of tenants who moved out of your property during a specific period, usually a year. Identify your average number of total units: Calculate the average number of rental units you have available for that same period. For example, if you started the year with 10 units and ended with 12, your average would be 11 units for the year. Calculate the turnover rate: Divide the number of move-outs by the number of total units and multiply by 100 (to get a percentage). Tenant Turnover Rate = (Number of Move-outs) / (Number of Units) X 100 For instance, if you had three move-outs in a year and an average of 11 units, your tenant turnover rate would be: (3/11) X 100 = 27.27%. This means that 27.27% of your units experienced tenant turnover that year. Understanding this rate can help you set targets and measure the success of your retention initiatives. Understanding Tenant Turnover Costs Vacancies create disruption to your income stream and your investors' cash flow. The longer the vacancy, the more you're spending on marketing and management to find a new tenant. Here are four ways tenant turnover costs property managers. 1. Maintenance & Repair After a tenant leaves a property, you have to restore it to a marketable condition. Ideally the tenant leaves it in excellent condition. But you'll still likely need to pay for deep cleanings, some light repairs, and some updates like fresh paint, patching holes, etc. Additionally, as a property sits vacant, it will slowly deteriorate to some degree. The longer the vacancy, the more need for maintenance, upkeep, or repair. 2. Showings Whether you do in-person showings or virtual/remote showings, there is a cost to prepping and opening the property to prospective tenants. You may need team members on site, or to make time to set up virtual showings. 3. Marketing A vacant property is a property that needs to be filled. You may primarily use services like Craigslist or Zillow, which require time and cost within your own team to build and maintain listings. Or, you may also pay for ads to get more viewings. And, of course, in some cases you'll need to include real estate agent commissions in your budget. 4. Overhead The whole process of turning a property involves hands-on effort from yourself and your team (if you have one). The cost in time and team member's salaries can add up. How to Reduce Tenant Turnover We don’t have to tell you that high tenant turnover is a property manager's nightmare. It incurs significant costs, from marketing the property and screening new tenants to potential lost income during vacancies. Tenant turnover costs can add up to thousands for each unit each month. However, with the right strategies in place, reducing tenant turnover is more than achievable. Let’s explore these tenant retention strategies that not only enhance the resident’s living experience but also boost the value of your client-investor’s assets and your business’s reputation. 1. Offer Competitive Rent Prices Ensure your rent prices are in line with the local market. Overcharging can lead to tenants seeking more affordable options elsewhere. Fortunately, with the interconnectedness of the real estate market, and a proliferation of software and apps that help track it, property managers can easily stay on top of the latest market trends. 2. Foster a Strong Property Manager-Tenant Relationship Regular communication and a respectful attitude can go a long way. Make tenants feel valued and heard. Address their concerns promptly and maintain transparency in all interactions. Clear and consistent communication goes a long way to protect this relationship. A Resident Benefits Package is an excellent way to prioritize the PM-resident relationship. It shows them you really care about their lived experience and offers solutions to their most common pain points. 3. Address Maintenance Requests Promptly Swiftly responding to and resolving maintenance issues demonstrates that you care about the tenant's comfort and safety. Regular maintenance checks ensure small issues don't become major problems. When tenants see that the property is well cared for, they’re more likely to stay – and to take care of it themselves. Another important factor is offering on-demand pest control, not just preventive care. Residents will rest easy knowing that, should any issues arise, they know exactly who to turn to and that it will be dealt with promptly. 4. Update and Renovate Modernizing appliances or adding new amenities can make the property more attractive and encourage tenants to stay longer. Modern, functional amenities can be a significant draw. Periodically update or add amenities like a dishwasher, laundry units, or improved outdoor spaces to enhance the property's appeal. 5. Offer Lease Renewal Incentives Consider providing discounts or other benefits for those who renew their lease, making the option more enticing. A resident rewards program can accomplish this along with incentivizing on-time rent payments and extra TLC for the property. 6. Ensure Security One of the top priorities for any resident is feeling safe in their home. This extends beyond just locking doors; it involves well-lit outdoor areas, potentially installing security cameras, etc. But did you know that identity theft has actually surpassed home burglaries as a risk to renters in the past two years? That’s why our Resident Benefits Package includes identity protection and renter’s insurance. Insurance protects your property, and identity protection preserves the resident’s financial stability – and, therefore, their ability to continue making rent. By proactively ensuring that security measures and insurance are up-to-date and effective, property managers can instill trust and peace of mind in their tenants, encouraging them to stay longer. And by providing identity protection, you can ensure that payments are safe, too. 7. Conduct Regular Inspections Routine inspections aren't just about ensuring that tenants are treating the property well; they're also an opportunity to identify and address minor issues before they escalate. By regularly checking in and maintaining open communication, property managers demonstrate commitment to the property's upkeep and the tenant's well-being. These inspections also give residents the confidence that they're in a proactive environment. They know you’re looking out for them and likely won’t feel the need to look for alternatives that might be less proactive. 8. Implement a Rewards System Resident rewards are an integral part of an RBP for good reason. Recognizing and rewarding responsible behavior can play a significant role in fostering loyalty among residents. By introducing a rewards system, property managers can incentivize timely rent payments, property care, and long-term leases. Whether it's a discount on a month's rent, a gift card to a local establishment, or points that can be redeemed for various perks, rewards make tenants feel appreciated. Over time, this builds a positive relationship, encouraging them to renew their leases and view their rental as more than just a temporary dwelling. 9. Vet Tenants Thoroughly One of the best proactive steps in ensuring long-term tenancy is by meticulously vetting potential tenants. The process of screening new tenants, with background checks, evaluates a tenant's rental history, financial stability, and overall fit for the property. By identifying individuals with a history of timely payments, respect for previous rental properties, and stable employment, property managers increase the likelihood of having residents who will care for the property, abide by lease terms, and remain for extended periods. This approach not only minimizes potential conflicts and evictions but also fosters trustworthy and transparent relationships with your residents. 10. Seek Feedback and Act on It Actively seeking feedback from tenants provides invaluable insights into areas of improvement and showcases a genuine commitment to enhancing their living experience. Whether it's through regular surveys, suggestion boxes, or casual conversations, understanding tenant concerns and promptly addressing them helps build trust and rapport. When residents see that their opinions matter and lead to tangible changes, they feel valued and heard. This proactive communication strengthens your relationship and often encourages longer stays as residents recognize the effort made to optimize their living environment. Tenant Turnover Checklist for Property Managers Here’s a checklist template for managing tenant turnover at your properties. 1. Pre-notice Period Review lease expiry dates. Initiate renewal conversations with tenants. Survey tenants on reasons for move-out if they choose not to renew. 2. Once Notice is Given Provide move-out instructions to tenants. Schedule a pre-move-out inspection. Inform maintenance team of upcoming vacancy. 3. Inspection and Repairs Conduct thorough move-out inspection. Document and photograph any damages beyond normal wear and tear. Get estimates and schedule repairs and upgrades. Clean or replace carpets if necessary. Paint walls where required. 4. Marketing the Property Update online listings with current photos and features. Set competitive rent based on market research. Host open houses or private viewings. 5. Tenant Application and Screening Collect applications from prospective tenants. Conduct thorough background and credit checks. Check references from previous landlords. 6. New Tenant Onboarding Prepare and sign a new lease agreement. Offer a welcome packet, gift, and orientation for new tenants. Hand over keys and ensure they understand property rules. 7. Post-move-in Seek feedback on the move-in process. Provide information on reward programs or other incentives. Remind new tenants of maintenance request procedures. 8. Financial Matters Finalize any previous tenant's security deposit returns, accounting for any deductions. Set up new rent collection methods with the incoming tenant. 9. Continuous Improvement Analyze reasons for turnovers. Update property features based on tenant feedback. Consider conducting a yearly review to address potential concerns before they lead to turnover. Print or save this checklist to ensure a smooth tenant turnover process and mitigate potential challenges. By following these steps, property managers can streamline the transition period and maintain a high standard of service for all residents.

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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What is Tenant Retention and 15 Ways to Improve it

What is tenant retention? Tenant retention refers to the ability of property owners or managers to keep their current tenants renewing their leases rather than having them move out and needing to find new renters. In the world of property management, retaining tenants is often more cost-effective and efficient than constantly finding new ones. This practice not only ensures a steady cash flow of rental income but also reduces expenses associated with vacancies, marketing, and new tenant screenings. To maximize tenant retention, you need a combination of value-driven services, proactive management, and strong tenant relationships. In this guide, we'll delve into 15 top tenant retention strategies. Second Nature's Outlook: "Tenant turnover” is an industry term used from time to time. But we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve the word "tenant." We’ve seen the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just philosophical, it also encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call renters “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. 1. Offer a Resident Benefits Package It’s one of the biggest trends in property management for a reason! Offering a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is a strategic move to elevate the overall resident experience. And nothing is more critical to tenant retention than their experience. An RBP typically bundles various services and amenities that cater to the modern tenant's needs and desires. This can range from convenience-driven offers like an air filter delivery service or move-in concierge to value-driven aspects like resident credit building and renters insurance programs. By incorporating such a package, property managers not only enhance the perceived value of living in their property but also position themselves as being attuned to the evolving demands of today's renters. That’s what makes an RBP such a significant differentiator in the competitive renter’s market, making tenants more likely to renew their leases and stay longer. 2. Address Maintenance Requests Promptly When it comes to rental experience, property maintenance is a top priority – and, unfortunately, often a top pain point. One of the chief concerns for tenants is how swiftly and efficiently their maintenance requests are addressed. Quick and effective responses to these requests demonstrate a property manager's commitment to the well-being and satisfaction of their tenants. Delays or negligence can lead to a feeling of being undervalued or overlooked, pushing renters to look for alternative accommodations where their concerns might be treated with greater urgency. Moreover, swift repairs prevent minor issues from escalating into major, costlier problems. In essence, by prioritizing and promptly attending to maintenance requests, property managers not only ensure the structural integrity and safety of their property but also build trust and rapport with their tenants, encouraging longer stays. 3. Incorporate a Renter’s Insurance Program Offering or even mandating a renter's insurance program is a proactive measure that benefits both property managers and tenants. This insurance covers tenants' personal belongings in cases of theft, fire, or other unexpected events, granting them peace of mind. For property managers and owners, it offers an extra layer of protection, as tenants are less likely to pursue claims against the property for personal loss. Additionally, when damages or accidents occur that aren't the property owner's responsibility, having an insurance policy ensures that costs are covered without disputes. For owners, it protects their property and protects them from financial losses. They can also often get lower premiums on their own insurance if they can prove their renters are covered with their own policies. Second Nature addresses this benefit by offering a renter’s insurance program as part of our RBP. 4. Focus on Security In today's evolving risk landscape – with digital threats, increasing weather risks, etc. – ensuring tenant safety should be a paramount concern for property managers. In turn, tenants are more likely to stay in a property where they feel safe and secure. By installing high-quality security systems, surveillance cameras, weather safety plans, or generators, and by regularly updating and maintaining these systems, property managers can provide an environment where residents feel their well-being is prioritized. It's not just about the physical infrastructure either. Identity theft has surpassed home burglary in the level of threat to renters. At Second Nature, we provide $1 million identity protection as part of our RBP. That ensures that residents feel safe – and that their financial stability is protected. That, of course, protects their ability to pay rent. A steadfast commitment to safety fosters trust and is a clear indication to tenants that their welfare is taken seriously, thus making them more inclined to renew their leases. 5. Offer Incentives We all like a nice incentive now and then! Incentives play a pivotal role in tenant retention, acting as a value proposition that goes beyond just the living space itself. For example: By incorporating a credit reporting program, property managers can incentivize on-time rent payments, helping tenants build a positive credit history in the process. This not only promotes financial responsibility but also offers a tangible benefit to the tenant. Lease renewal incentives, such as discounted rent for the first month of renewal or free amenity usage, further encourage tenants to stay longer. Incentives create win-win solutions where tenants feel they're receiving added value while the property manager and owners benefit through consistent occupancy. 6. Implement a Rewards System Building a robust tenant relationship goes beyond addressing their needs; it also involves rewarding their loyalty. Programs in other industries maximize this type of value – think of Starbucks Rewards or Delta SkyMiles. A Resident Rewards program is similarly a strategic approach to foster customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty. Unlike direct incentives, these rewards programs offer points or credits for consistent on-time payments, renewing leases, or even care for the property. Over time, these points can be redeemed for tangible benefits or perks like gift cards, discounts on amenities, or special privileges within the property. By providing a continuous system of recognition, property managers can cultivate a positive tenant culture, making residents feel appreciated and thereby more inclined to renew their leases. Such a system also nudges tenants to adopt behaviors beneficial to both them and the property management, leading to a harmonious rental ecosystem. 7. Conduct Regular Inspections Regular inspections are a cornerstone of proactive property management and are essential for maintaining tenant satisfaction. By periodically assessing the condition of a rental property, managers can identify and rectify potential issues before they escalate. Whether it's a minor leak or wear and tear, addressing them early on reduces long-term maintenance costs and demonstrates a commitment to providing tenants with a well-maintained living space. Furthermore, these inspections offer an opportunity for open communication with tenants, understanding their concerns, and building trust. While it's crucial to respect a tenant's privacy by giving proper notice and scheduling at convenient times, these inspections emphasize the property manager's dedication to preserving the property's value and ensuring resident comfort. 8. Update and Renovate In the competitive world of rental real estate, properties that remain stagnant quickly lose appeal. By making periodic updates and renovations, property managers can significantly enhance the rental's desirability and rental rates and keep it aligned with current housing trends. Whether it's a modern kitchen makeover, a bathroom upgrade, or simply a fresh coat of paint, these changes can breathe new life into a space. Not only do renovations increase property value, but they also communicate to tenants that their living experience is valued and considered. Tenants are more likely to renew their leases when they see active efforts being made to improve their living environment, ensuring they always feel they're getting the best value for their money. 9. Offer On-Demand Pest Control One of the fastest ways to sour a tenant's experience? Leaving them to deal with unwanted pests. It also might put you or the owner at risk of legal action, depending on the state. Whether it's ants in the summer or mice in the winter, pest issues can quickly escalate if not addressed immediately. By offering on-demand pest control as part of the tenant package, property managers demonstrate a proactive approach to potential issues and ensure that tenants feel their well-being is a top priority. This service minimizes the likelihood of recurring pest problems and showcases a commitment to maintaining a clean and habitable environment. It’s also a better ROI than preventive sprays that don’t necessarily address real issues. On-demand services ensure that actual issues are addressed as soon as they pop up (or crawl out!). Tenants will appreciate the quick response and effort to ensure their comfort, further solidifying their decision to stay long-term. 10. Include Valuable Services like Filter Delivery Property managers know that it’s often the small touches that leave a lasting impression – and nip bigger problems in the bud. One such valuable service is offering filter delivery. Regularly changing air filters not only ensures a healthier living environment by improving air quality but also boosts the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, saving significantly on energy bills. In fact, a study by the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) found that filter delivery could reduce costs by up to nearly 80%. By offering filter delivery, property managers remove a common chore from the tenant's list, demonstrating attention to detail and a commitment to their comfort. This proactive approach to maintenance, coupled with the convenience of direct-to-door delivery, can enhance the overall resident experience, making them more inclined to extend their lease. 11. Offer a Move-in Concierge The moving process can be one of the most stressful experiences for new tenants, filled with a myriad of tasks and uncertainties. In fact, most renters have already made their decision to renew or not within the first 30-60 days. By offering a Move-In Concierge service, property managers can significantly ease this transition. This service assists new residents with tasks like utility setups, mail forwarding, local service recommendations, and even scheduling movers or rental equipment. Beyond just the practical help, a Move-In Concierge communicates to the tenant that their comfort and smooth transition are a priority. This initial positive experience can set the tone for the entire duration of the lease, making tenants feel valued and well cared for from the outset. 12. Use Digital Solutions It’s just the reality of 2023 and beyond: Tenants expect digital convenience. Whether it's online rent payments, a tenant portal for logging maintenance requests, or virtual property tours, embracing digital solutions can greatly enhance the tenant experience. These platforms not only streamline administrative tasks, reducing the possibility of human error but also provide a more responsive and efficient service to residents. For younger generations especially, the ability to manage their tenancy online can be a significant deciding factor in choosing a rental property. Property managers who keep pace with technological advancements in the industry not only improve tenant retention but also position their properties as modern and forward-thinking. 13. Vet Tenants Thoroughly The process of tenant retention begins even before a lease is signed. By thoroughly vetting potential tenants, property managers can ensure they're selecting responsible individuals who are more likely to be great tenants – tenants who will respect the property, adhere to lease terms, and foster a positive community environment. This involves conducting comprehensive background checks, verifying employment and income, and checking references from previous landlords. By choosing good tenants who have a track record of timely payments and good behavior, you set the stage for a longer, more harmonious rental relationship. It's an investment in time upfront that can save countless hours and resources in the long run. 14. Seek Feedback and Act on it Among the best tenant retention tips: Tenant feedback is an invaluable tool for understanding what you're doing right and where there might be room for improvement. Actively seeking out tenant opinions through surveys, feedback forms, or simply open-door policies can shed light on aspects of property management that might otherwise go unnoticed. Of course, collecting feedback isn't enough on its own; the crucial step is to genuinely act upon the insights gathered. Whether it's a minor repair, upgrades, or better communication methods, implementing changes based on tenant feedback not only improves the living experience but also shows residents that their voices matter, fostering trust and encouraging longer tenancies. 15. Foster a Strong Property Manager-Tenant Relationship The foundation of tenant retention often rests on the relationship built between the property manager and the tenant. This bond goes beyond mere transactions and lease renewals. It's about understanding, respect, and open communication. By being approachable, responsive, and genuinely caring about tenants' well-being and comfort, property managers can foster a sense of community and belonging. Regular check-ins, prompt responses to concerns, birthday or anniversary gifts, and occasional gestures of appreciation can make tenants feel valued. A strong relationship not only reduces the chances of tenants seeking a new place but also encourages positive word-of-mouth recommendations, benefiting the property's reputation and bottom line. Tips for Successful Tenant Retention Program At the heart of tenant retention is a simple yet profound realization: tenants, much like any consumers, are looking for value, ease, and assurance in their choices. When it comes to exploring the topic of tenant retention meaning, for us, it’s all about the resident experience. The key question for tenant retention is simply: “How do we create an experience so good that residents never want to leave?” Answering this question helps property managers identify exactly what residents are willing to pay for and stay for. Here are a few tips for approaching the resident experience. Get a much more in-depth look at it through our 2023 State of Resident Experience Report. Focus on convenience: Today's residents value convenience more than ever. Be it quick maintenance solutions, easy-to-access amenities, or streamlined communication, the easier you make life for your tenants, the more likely they are to stay. A resident benefits package or on-demand services are ways to weave in this convenience. Embrace digital transformation: The digital age has transformed tenant expectations. Online rent payments, digital lease signings, AI-powered helpdesks, and smart home integrations are just a few avenues where digitalization can significantly enhance the resident experience. Aim for the Triple Win: True success in tenant retention is realized when all parties involved – the residents, property managers, and owners – feel they're gaining value. Implement strategies where each party stands to benefit, ensuring harmonious, long-lasting relationships. By grounding your tenant retention program in these principles, you not only meet resident expectations but often surpass them. How Second Nature Helps with Tenant Retention Navigating the world of tenant retention can be intricate, but Second Nature simplifies the journey. Our comprehensive Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is meticulously designed to cater to modern tenant needs, offering unparalleled convenience and value. By focusing on strategies that drive resident satisfaction, Second Nature ensures both property managers and owners achieve higher tenant retention rates. Embrace the RBP, and witness the transformative impact it brings to your property management endeavors.

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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Property management experts

20 Top Experts Weigh In On Optimizing the Resident Experience

In today's ever-evolving property management landscape, the focus on resident experience has taken center stage. It's not just about the bricks and mortar anymore; it's about building meaningful experiences, fostering connections, and ensuring residents truly feel at home. And have you heard? We published a comprehensive report on just that: The 2023 State of Resident Experience in Single-Family Property Management. The report includes in-depth studies and impact data on the most innovative strategies in property management right now. In the meantime, we’ve curated the top 25 insights about resident experience from 20 experts in the property management industry. These pros have been there, done that, and seen it all. We’ve been fortunate enough to chat with them on podcasts, document detailed interviews, and have in-depth conversations across the country. Whether you're curious about the rise of resident benefits packages, seeking inspiration on innovative revenue streams, or want to learn more about automation and AI, read on to hear directly from the experts – or go directly to our in-depth, downloadable report. Why Focusing on Resident Experience is a Strategic Goal Centering your property management strategy on resident experience isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s a strategic imperative that drives success and sets industry leaders apart. Here’s how… ‍ “Property Managers who are on the cutting edge realize that by focusing on the resident experience, they will earn better returns on investment for their investor clients.” -Gregg Cohen, Co-Founder of JWB Real Estate Companies ‍ “Resident retention is a direct reflection of your customer experience. If people enjoy working with you, they'll stay. If they don't, they won't. We use resident retention as a key benchmark for measuring our customer service. In our market, we renew 72% of our leases annually. A standard PM benchmark historically is that about a 70% renewal rate for residents is a huge success.” -Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate ‍ “As the operator of a business, how can I get from something transactional to something transformative – so that people are getting something from me that they aren’t getting from most other businesses.” -Jordan Muela, CEO of LeadSimple ‍‍‍ “We’ve really started to notice that the better experience we can make with the tenants, the more they want to come to us as opposed to our competitors. It's all about the experience. Think about Starbucks. It’s essentially the same cup of coffee as McDonald's. But it's the experience that Starbucks gives you. So we’ve held onto this idea that we want to provide the experience that residents gravitate to.” -Chenoa Stark, Property Manager at American Leasing and Management ‍ “When you're giving that great experience to your residents, you're also giving that great experience to your owners. They have less lost vacancy, they have more care and more respect given to their property, and that's going to protect their assets. That shift in the industry is already happening, and those that are able to make that pivot quickly are going to be able to level themselves up and really get ahead of the curve.” -Kelli Segretto, K Segretto Consulting ‍ “Happy residents stay longer, take better care of the home, and provide better long-term stability and return on investment for clients. They also spread the good word locally and refer more renters to you. And happy residents are usually nicer, leading to happier staff!” -Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate ‍‍ “When people come into my office and say this is the best experience I’ve ever had, I know we’ve done our job.” -Janet Sprissler, Broker/Owner, Rent 805 ‍‍ Changes in the Property Management Industry The evolution of the property management sector has been remarkable. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all solutions and impersonal transactions. Today, as these insightful quotes highlight, the industry is transforming to meet the increasing demand for personalized, consumer-centric experiences that elevate convenience and satisfaction. ‍ “[W]e’re seeing a huge culture shift in the housing space. How do we provide ease? The Uber or Grubhub mentality of We want it now: How can you do that in the real estate space as well?” -Phil Vera, CEO of Paragon Property Management ‍‍ “I think ten years ago, property managers were only concerned with collecting rent and keeping tenants from doing damage to properties. It was a much more adversarial relationship than it is today. Today, the best PMs know that resident experience is vital to minimizing vacancy and creating a resident that strives to be a higher quality tenant.” -Jonathan Cook, Community Manager at APM Help ‍ “The younger generations we’re dealing with in property management, they want experiences and simplicity, and they’re willing to pay to have things taken care of for them.” -Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives, PURE Property Management ‍‍ “What I'm seeing from our residents – whether they're paying $3,000 a month in rent or $1,000 a month in rent – the number one thing that they look for is ease and convenience. They don't want complicated instructions. They just want simple, they want right now. They want contact-free, they don't want to talk to people. So everything we do from showings to move-in to the experience after they move in is all revolved around design for that expectation.” -DD Lee, PURE Property Management Why More Property Managers are Choosing a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) Professional property managers are increasingly adopting the multifaceted advantages of the Resident Benefits Package. The quotes below highlight why this holistic approach is rapidly becoming the gold standard in property management – emphasizing the RBP’s value for both residents and property owners alike. ‍ “A resident benefits package – you hear people call it the easy button. That’s because it is essentially all of these different services and all of these different, valuable add-ons for your residents that are done for you.” -Kelli Segretto, K Segretto Consulting ‍‍ “As RBP services have evolved to include more products and services – like credit building, identity theft, etc. – they are providing value that affects everyday people. I’ve found that, beyond helping us to stand out in our industry, an RBP means we're actually doing something good for the people that we interact with. It's not just about beating our competition, it's that we're actually providing value that they can really use – services that actually help them for their long-term goals.” -Chenoa Stark, American Leasing and Management ‍ “A resident benefits package alone can result in a 10% bump to revenue per unit, which can result in that 100% increase to profit per unit. This profitability can result in more fuel to your freedom, more fuel to your mission, and realizing all the things you went into business for in the first place.” -Daniel Craig, CEO of ProfitCoach Implementing an RBP Adopting a Resident Benefits Package might seem daunting, but as the insights below will reveal, it’s not as difficult as you might think. ‍ “The fear (that residents or owners will push back against change) is normal. No one ever wants to say, ‘Hey, you need to pay more money.’ I was the same. But I slowly introduced things like filter delivery, renter's insurance, and ancillary services. What I found was astonishing – nobody pushed back! Out of 300 residents at the time when we first started introducing this, maybe two or three asked, ‘Why why do I need this?’ And we simply explained to them, ‘This is going to make your life easier, and it's not going to cost much more than if you went to the store, spent all that time in the car, and bought it yourself. Plus, you might forget.’ It just made sense to them. Now, we sign residents up as they move in.” -DD Lee, PURE Property Management ‍ “Be ultra-transparent and get it done in the beginning, just saying, we're not hiding anything. This is what you're being enrolled in. This is what it is. I think that helped the adoption rate a little bit. And if people did call in with questions, we were happy to answer them and talk to them about it.” -Kyle Hendricks, VP of Hendricks Property Management ‍‍ Automation & AI in Property Management Leading experts emphasize the pivotal role of automation and artificial intelligence in reshaping the property management industry. Professional property managers are embracing these technologies not just to stay competitive but to elevate the overall resident experience and streamline operations. AI in property management is a big trend to watch. ‍ “People who are against automation say, ‘I don’t like automation because I lose that relationship with my clients.’ I would flip that and say: If I can automate eight of the ten tasks that need to be done, that means I have more time to build the relationships.” -Pete Neubig, CEO of VPM Solutions ‍ “Automation is the great equalizer. It allows us to compete with nationwide companies and to provide not only the same level of service but to be able to pivot and adapt much quicker than those larger companies can. If you're a smaller company, AI and Automation Tech is that equalizer that's going to allow you to shine just as well as these larger companies.” -Wolfgang Croskey, Founder & President of How’s My Rental ‍‍ “One of the things I want my clients to think about is that our tech is not just for our benefit. This is not just to make our lives easier and our jobs easier. It's to really be able to reposition our time so that we're focused on value creation.” -Rhianna Campbell, Property Management Consultant, Proper Planning LLC ‍ Innovative Revenue Streams & Ancillary Income By offering value-added services that residents genuinely need, property managers not only boost their profitability but also create a win-win situation where both parties benefit from added convenience and value. ‍ “Prop tech companies are making the mechanics of property management easy – rent collection, maintenance, screening, the day-to-day mechanics of property management. Thirty years ago, that’s what a property manager did. Now, though, when it comes to things like benefits packages, pet guarantees, and rent guarantees with security deposit alternatives, we can offer much more value.” -Todd Ortscheid, CEO of Revolution Rental Management ‍ “There are so many of these things – when you look through all of the different revenue-generating ideas – that are just good across the board for everybody. [The Triple Win] is where you should focus your efforts when you’re trying to bring in the most revenue and do the most good.” -Todd Ortscheid, CEO of Revolution Rental Management ‍‍ “When considering a service like pest control, our approach is, 'How can we take this off the property manager’s plate?’ We aim to create ancillary revenue for them, take an annoying task off their list, and enhance the resident experience.” -Landon Cooley, Co-Founder & CEO at Pest Share ‍ “Security deposits and tenant screening are two fascinating areas of real estate that tech companies are attempting to disrupt. Traditional security deposits are starting to become passé in some jurisdictions.” -Peter Lohmann, Co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management ‍ “I think the type of initiatives that we're having success with are those things that provide an enhanced lifestyle for our tenants or residents. And that's all often driven via surveys and input from residents. So instead of us pretending that we know every potential amenity they would like, we’re actually reaching out to them and asking them what the value proposition would be from their perspective.” -Steve Pardon, CEO of JMAX Property Management ‍ Hiring for Single-Family Rental Property Management (vs. Multifamily) Looking to hire this year? Single-family rentals have their own unique set of challenges and nuances that set them apart from multifamily units. Here’s a great tip from Matthew Whitaker to close us out. ‍ “When you add multiple investors and then the logistics of single-family, it becomes a much more complicated business. If you’re going to pull from the multifamily industry, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re hiring some of the best and brightest from that industry because, again, dealing with 300 homes and 50 investors is way more complicated than a 300-unit apartment community all together with one investor.” -Matthew Whitaker, Founder & CEO at Evernest ‍ Ready to Learn More? Wrapping things up, it's clear: nailing the resident experience is the secret sauce to elevating property management services and driving value for residents, investors, and your property management company. If you want even deeper insights into driving resident retention and investor value, check out our State of Resident Experience Report. The report deep-dives with studies on the value and impact of innovative property management services and explores the changing shape of the property management industry.

Calendar icon October 10, 2023

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How to Optimize Your Tenant Move-in Checklist

We get a lot of questions here at Second Nature about the ideal tenant move-in checklist. After all, whether you're new to the realm of property management or a seasoned expert, one common goal unites us all: creating an excellent resident experience. The move-in process marks the beginning of your resident’s journey, and it's an opportunity to make a great first impression. A well-crafted resident move-in checklist can make this process smooth, efficient, and stress-free for all parties involved. In this article, we're talking to a leader in the single-family rental property management space to help us delve into the essentials of a resident move-in checklist, its benefits, and how it can enhance the overall resident move-in experience. Let's dive in and discover how a simple checklist can streamline your move-ins. Interested in reading more about resident experience management? Read our 2023 State of Resident Experience Report. Meet the Expert: Janet Sprissler, Broker/Owner, Rent 805 Janet Sprissler has over 20 years of experience in property management and a philosophy of working with residents to bring them value and help communities thrive while providing investors with a positive net operating income. She started her career in Los Angeles with 24 units and grew to a multi-family fixer for over 400-unit buildings throughout Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties. Janet left multifamily to consult with single-family residential managers to bring her problem-solving philosophy to life. Starting Rent 805 has been a lifelong dream of hers to bring investments, housing, and a positive impact in the property management community. Janet also received the 2023 Triple Win Property Management Award for Leadership in Resident Experience. What is a Tenant Move-In Checklist? A tenant move-in checklist is a detailed document that records the condition of a rental property at the time a resident moves in, serving as an essential tool to prevent potential disputes over property damage during the lease period. Some consider this a landlord-tenant agreement but can be between property managers and residents, as well. This checklist is a lifeline for both property managers and new residents. From the state of the kitchen appliances to the condition of the flooring, this checklist serves as a comprehensive record of the property's state. Other names for the checklist could include: Move-in move-out checklist Inspection checklist Tenant walkthrough checklist Rental inspection checklist Move-in inspection checklist Move-out inspection checklist Rental walkthrough checklist Think of it as a snapshot in time, providing a clear reference point for both parties. It's not just a piece of paper; it's a roadmap to a smooth tenancy for everyone involved. Now, that's a win-win! Note on Language: At Second Nature, we like to say “resident” rather than “tenant,” but will use the terms interchangeably since many property managers have official terminology around these checklists. Benefits of Using a Move-In Checklist Using a well-crafted checklist has far-reaching benefits for property owners, property managers, and property residents. We’re breaking down the benefits based on each of these perspectives. Benefits for Property Owners Protection of Property: A move-in checklist includes a detailed property inspection, protecting owners from damage disputes at the end of a lease. Compliance with Local Laws: Some jurisdictions require move-in checklists for legal protection. Maintenance Tracking: Early identification of maintenance issues can help property owners address them proactively. Benefits for Property Managers Streamlined Process: A move-in checklist provides a clear process, helping property managers to stay organized and ensure all essential tasks are completed. Improved Communication: A checklist sets clear expectations for the move-in process, promoting transparency and minimizing misunderstandings with residents for the lease agreement. Property Protection: By signing off on a detailed checklist, property managers ensure their good work is documented and any issues can be clearly identified as resident responsibility. This is critical when it comes to the security deposit if there is damage. Increased Efficiency: Using a checklist can speed up the move-in process, maintenance before move-in, etc., saving property managers valuable time. Benefits for Residents Clarity and Transparency: A checklist provides residents with clear expectations of what the move-in process involves and their responsibilities. You will have a document of pre-existing damage and know what repairs are needed, plus what’s just normal wear and tear. Peace of Mind: A detailed property inspection at move-in provides a record of the property's condition, protecting residents from unjust damage claims. It also helps them ensure any open issues are repaired. Smooth Transition: A well-organized move-in process can ease the stress of moving, enhancing the resident’s initial experience and ensuring they move into a space that’s ready for safe living. What should be on a Move-In Checklist? With those benefits, it’s clear that having a move-in checklist is critical for any property manager. Some states require property owners to provide new residents with a renter move-in checklist. So, what should you include? Is anything optional? While legally, you may have some leeway, Janet Sprissler says that if you want to truly focus on the best experience, nothing is optional. “Everything with us is a must,” Sprissler says. “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 new resident what we won’t do for the other.” Here are the primary things that property managers include in a move-in checklist. Depending on your type of property, real estate investor preferences, and location, this list may change slightly. A comprehensive resident move-in checklist should include: Details of the Resident and Landlord/Property Manager: Full names, addresses, and contact information. Property Details: Full address of the property, the date of the inspection, and the move-in date. Room-by-Room Assessment: This is the bulk of the checklist. An evaluation of each room's condition, including walls, flooring, windows, countertops, faucets, doors, light fixtures, and any furniture or appliances. This should include specifics like paint condition, carpet stains, appliance functionality, etc. Note if anything needs repair, updates, etc. Include all rooms, such as: Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Bedroom(s), Bathroom(s), Laundry Room, etc.‍ Exterior Assessment: Notes on the condition of the property exterior, including yard, light fixtures, fencing, roof, gutters, and driveway. Note if anything needs repair, updates, etc.‍ Utilities: Information about the functionality of utilities such as electricity, water, gas, heating/cooling systems, and internet. You can also include information about a move-in concierge in a Resident Benefits Package through Second Nature.‍ Safety Features: Status of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, locks, and any security systems. Note if anything needs repair, updates, etc.‍ Signatures: Both the resident and property manager should sign and date the document to confirm their agreement on the property’s initial condition.‍ Photographs: Include clear photos of each room and any existing damages to provide a visual record and clarify any potential disputes. Remember, this is a basic checklist, and depending on the property type and local landlord-tenant laws, there may be additional items to include. How to Optimize Resident Move-in Experience A checklist is the foundation of a wonderful move-in experience. But it’s just the starting point. How does a property management company set itself apart from others in the move-in experience? Here’s where we went to Janet Sprissler and others in our Triple Win Property Managers community for input. Use the Right Tools It’s easy to forget a step if you don’t have tools that help automate your process and keep your whole team on the same page. The most important thing? “You don’t forget a step!” Sprissler says. “Without a checklist, you’re pretty much setting yourself up to fail,” she continues. “You will drop things, things will be missed, they’ll move in, and there’s going to be a problem. When you set the tone that ‘this is going to be a hot mess,’ you’re setting yourself up to have disgruntled residents, and disgruntled residents never take care of the property well.” Sprissler especially recommends Monday.com for tracking the checklist and process with your internal team and tools like Tenant Turner to help on the resident side. They use zInspector to ensure they are on top of property inspections. “I’m not big on a bunch of papers around,” she says. “I want to see it all automated, I want any of my team members to be able to dive into Monday.com and see what’s missing or needed right away. That system runs so much, I’m a huge fan of it.” Treat all Residents with Equal Care Sprissler says focusing on making residents feel that “WOW!” is critical to their longevity and care for the property. At her company, they focus on seamless processes, transparent communication, and even gifts! The key is that every resident gets that same treatment. “New residents MUST have a move-in gift,” Sprissler says. “They must all get the procedures we’ve set ahead of time. They must receive their birthday gift, they must receive access to our First of the Month Club. We do a move-in concierge through Second Nature – they must have that touch point. We don’t ever say, ‘Hey, this is going to happen,’ and then it doesn’t happen.” Design the Ideal Move-in Process We asked Sprissler how they create an ideal resident experience throughout the move-in process, and this was her top recommendation. “We make it seamless. SEAM. LESS,” she said for emphasis! “On the move-in side, our new residents go through Tenant Turner to get onto the property with an access code. Move in and move out is on Tenant Turner. We make it very simple for them to get access to the property. We don’t play around with it.” “At every stage of the process, prospective and new residents have had conversations with us so that they’re set up, and they know what’s going to happen next.” For Sprissler, it’s about thoughtful touches that give residents a sense of a VIP experience. “For example, people get hungry!” Sprissler says. “We have pizzas delivered on a moving day. One of our move-in questions is ‘What’s your favorite pizza?’” Be Willing to Go Above and Beyond Added touches – like the pizza on move-in day – go a long way to establishing the best resident experience and behavior. “When tenants have those touches, it makes life better. It just does,” Sprissler says. They provide birthday gifts and move-in gifts and will add items for pets or children customized to those residents. “People often say, ‘How are you recouping that?’” Sprissler says. “I’m recouping that by having great units when I walk through the door. You cannot pay someone to take care of a unit. But if they feel the worth of themselves and how you feel about them, they take great care of the unit.” Provide a Move-In Concierge Second Nature includes a move-in concierge as part of the Resident Benefit Program. Sprissler says this is one of the best parts of a seamless move-in. “We use a move-in concierge through Second Nature,” Sprissler says. “People really like it when they’re being reached out to, and all of that is handled. Moving is one of the top five stressors people experience in life. You have to realize as a property manager that you have to take some of that pressure off them. Take it off their plate! Are you making a better experience by piling stuff up on them?” “When people come into my office and say this is the best experience I’ve ever had, I know we’ve done our job,” Sprissler says. Provide a Renter’s Insurance Program Making sure that residents have insurance coverage from day one is key. You never know when something could happen, and protecting residents is the foundation of a good experience. Second Nature’s RBP includes a renter’s insurance program that has 100% compliance across its use. Sprissler is one of the people who use this program, and she says it’s critical to have for her residents. Set Clear Expectations and Incorporate Incentive Fees Sprissler recommends requesting a tenant ledger so you have the clearest information about the resident before move-in. “You can see if they’ve been charged for maintenance requests, you can see what day they pay – it really is a black and white of how they treated that previous unit,” she says. And then, of course, that clarity should be reciprocated. Sprissler emphasizes transparency upfront and excellent follow-through. Be clear, but also show that you are willing to listen. “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” Sprissler says. “I have Rent 805 rules and regulations, and any delinquency is heavily fined. Those are behavioral fees. For example, my late fee is very high, but then it’s also part of my resident benefit package to forgo that one time during the life of the tenant being in the unit. It just sets expectations.” Ultimately? “If you use good software that does a good job of screening, these questions are all resolved for you.” Final Thoughts Remember, a move-in checklist is not just a document; it's a tool to enhance communication, establish expectations, and create a positive resident experience. Our top recommendation for ensuring a world-class resident experience is to build a resident benefits program. Second Nature has pioneered the only fully managed Resident Benefits Package for single-family property managers. Learn more about resident experience management in our State of Resident Experience Report, or explore the benefits of a Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon July 24, 2023

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9 Ways to Improve Your Resident Experience

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.

Calendar icon July 18, 2023

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Why is Resident Experience Important?

Have you heard? We just published our first-ever State of Resident Experience Report! The report draws fresh insights from the SFR property management industry and explores the three top factors impacting resident experience right now. Download the report to see the results! In the meantime, today we’re getting started with a related topic: Why is resident experience so important? Resident Experience is the cumulative effect of all interactions and engagements between a resident and a property management company throughout their leasing lifecycle. It encompasses every touchpoint, from the initial viewing and leasing process all the way to maintenance services, communication, amenities, and lease renewal. In many ways, the resident experience is the heart of professional property management, encapsulating the quality of living provided beyond just a physical living space. In this article, we will: Explore the paramount importance of resident experience to property management Outline how it can directly impact factors like retention rates, profitability, and reputation Share insights from leaders in the single-family rental property management industry Buckle up as we delve into the power of stellar resident experience – and how it’s becoming a strategic imperative in the current real estate landscape. Here are 8 ways resident experience management can make a difference for residents, investors, and property management companies. 1. Improves Retention Rates Retention rates, or the ability to keep residents renewing their leases year after year, are a key metric of success for any property management operation. High retention rates mean stable revenue and reduced costs associated with vacancies, marketing for new residents, and turnover maintenance. But what fuels high retention rates? The answer is an exceptional resident experience. When residents feel heard and valued, they’re a lot more likely to renew their leases. This positive resident engagement is just as important in single-family rentals as it is in multifamily apartment communities, where it often gets more attention. In essence, the resident experience is your tool to turn the transient nature of renting into a long-term relationship. It's not just about providing a day-to-day place to live; it's about designing a product and service that residents will pay for and stay for. A truly positive resident experience can convert short-term leases into long-term homes, making it a strategic focus for effective property management. “I think ten years ago, property managers were only concerned with collecting rent and keeping tenants from doing damage to properties. It was a much more adversarial relationship than it is today. Today, the best PMs know that resident experience is vital to minimizing vacancy and creating a resident that strives to be a higher quality tenant.” - Jonathan Cook, Business Development Manager, Revolution Rental Management 2. Reduces Vacancy Costs One of the most substantial costs that property managers (and their investor clients) face is the cost of vacancy. Each day a property remains unoccupied equates to lost revenue. Not to mention the additional expenses associated with marketing the property, move-out costs, screening new residents, prepping the move-in process, and preparing the unit for occupancy again. When you add it all up, the costs can be quite significant. This is basically the flip side of the coin of “resident retention.” Good resident experience → Resident retention → Reduced vacancy costs. A positive resident experience can act as a powerful retention tool, encouraging residents to renew their leases and reducing the churn that leads to vacancies. “We’ve really started to notice that the better experience we can make with the tenants, the more they want to come to us as opposed to our competitors. It's all about experience. We’ve held onto this idea that we want to provide the experience that residents gravitate to.” - Chenoa Stark, Property Manager at American Leasing and Management After all, happy residents can become your advocates. They are likely to spread the word about their experience, drawing in potential new residents. By delivering an exceptional resident experience, you're offering them just that, making your property stand out in a crowded market. 3. Increases Profitability “Property Managers who are on the cutting edge realize that by focusing on the resident experience, they will earn better returns on investment for their company and their investor clients.” - Gregg Cohen, Co-Founder of JWB Real Estate Companies. A compelling resident experience is a secret weapon for driving profitability in property management. It's like a strategic chess move that not only strengthens your relationship with residents but also contributes to your bottom line in several key ways. Reduced Acquisition Costs: We’ve already discussed how, by keeping your current residents happy and renewing, acquisition and move-in costs are drastically reduced. Increased Ancillary Revenue Opportunities: A positive resident experience can open the door to various ancillary income opportunities with strategic pricing. Services like an RBP can boost your profitability while simultaneously improving the resident experience. Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Satisfied residents are your best brand ambassadors. They can spread positive word-of-mouth about your property, attracting new prospects and reducing marketing expenses. Operational Efficiency: Elements that enhance the resident experience, such as digital communication portals or automated maintenance requests, also lead to operational efficiencies. These improvements can streamline and automate processes, saving time and reducing costs. In essence, a robust resident experience strategy is not just about resident satisfaction; it's a profitability powerhouse. It allows property managers to attract and retain residents more cost-effectively, uncover new revenue opportunities, and operate more efficiently, all of which positively impact the bottom line. 4. Boosts Reputation In the age of online reviews and social media, reputation is everything, especially in the property management industry. A strong, positive reputation can be one of your most valuable assets, attracting potential residents and providing a competitive edge in the market. The cornerstone of a great reputation? You know the answer already: An exceptional resident experience. When residents have positive interactions with your property management team, they're more likely to share their experiences. These shared experiences, whether through word-of-mouth or online reviews, contribute significantly to your company's reputation. Positive reviews can attract new residents looking for a new home, reducing the time and cost of filling vacancies. They also provide a form of social proof, assuring prospective residents that they're making a good choice by choosing your property. Furthermore, a stellar reputation can strengthen relationships with investors, vendors, and other stakeholders. It can lead to new business opportunities and partnerships, further boosting profitability. In essence, cultivating a superior resident experience is like planting the seeds of a robust, positive reputation. As you nurture these experiences, your reputation can grow, reaping benefits in terms of resident attraction and retention, stakeholder relationships, and overall business growth. 5. Simplifies Rent Collection Rent collection is a critical component of property management, and any strategy that can streamline and improve the efficiency of rent collection is worth its weight in gold. That's where a stellar living experience comes into play. Satisfied residents are generally more cooperative and timely in fulfilling their financial obligations, including paying rent. Positive relationships between residents and property managers foster a sense of mutual respect and understanding, which can go a long way in ensuring smooth rent collection. The resident experience also extends to tools and incentives for on-time rent payments. For instance, an easy-to-use online portal for rent payment can lead to faster, more reliable rent payments. One of the best ways to ensure on-time payments is by providing incentives in a Resident Benefits Package (RBP). An RBP can provide credit reporting for on-time payments, resident rewards for early payments, and more. A great resident experience doesn't just make residents happier; it makes the fundamental aspect of rent collection easier and more efficient. It's a testament to the idea that good relationships make good business sense. 6. Reduces Maintenance Issues Maintenance is a significant part of property management, and it can be a substantial cost center. However, by offering a superior resident experience, you can reduce the frequency and severity of these issues. Residents who feel taken care of are more likely to reciprocate those feelings towards the property. A positive resident experience can also foster better communication between residents and management. Residents are more likely to report minor maintenance issues promptly before they escalate into major, costly repairs. For instance, a leaky faucet reported and repaired promptly will cost much less than ignoring it until extensive water damage occurs. Again, one of the best ways to boost resident satisfaction and reduce maintenance costs is to provide a Resident Benefits Package. At Second Nature, our RBP provides things like scheduled filter delivery to ensure air filters are changed on time and reduce HVAC costs. The mantra is simple – take care of your residents, and they'll take care of your property. 7. Creates Satisfied Investors Property owners are investors who seek returns on their investments and the preservation of their properties' value. A vital element to achieving this is through offering an exceptional resident experience. When residents are satisfied, they tend to stay longer, pay rent on time, and take better care of the property. This leads to consistent income, reduced expenses, and fewer maintenance issues — all key elements for maintaining a property's value and ensuring strong returns. And remember: properties known for their superior resident experience tend to attract quality residents faster, reducing costly vacancy periods. They're also more resilient against market fluctuations, preserving investors' returns. Property investors value professional property management that focuses on resident experience because it signifies competent handling of their investment. It displays a forward-thinking approach that aligns with today's renter expectations. It leads to a virtuous cycle of high-quality tenancies, stable returns, and preserved property value – a “triple win” for residents, PMCs, and investors. “When you're giving that great experience to your residents, you're also giving that great experience to your owners. They have less lost vacancy, they have more care and more respect given to their property, and that's going to protect their assets. That shift in the industry is already happening, and those that are able to make that pivot quickly are going to be able to level themselves up and really get ahead of the curve.” - Kelli Segretto, Property Management Inc. 8. Builds Competitive Advantage “As the operator of a business, how can I get from something transactional to something transformative – so that people are getting something from me that they aren’t getting from most other businesses.” - Jordan Muela, CEO of LeadSimple In today's competitive property management landscape, offering an exceptional resident experience is not just a perk, it's a differentiator. It's what sets a property management company apart in a crowded market and makes it a preferred choice for residents. A positive resident experience leads to higher resident retention, reducing vacancy rates and the costs associated with acquiring new residents. It allows property managers to maintain steady rental income, creating a solid financial foundation that competitors might struggle to match. In a nutshell, a commitment to providing an exceptional resident experience can provide a significant competitive advantage for all the reasons listed above – positioning a property management company as a leader in the field. How Second Nature Helps Optimize Resident Experience Second Nature built a product based on the idea that creating a world-class resident experience could make a difference in profitability and value for residents, property managers, and property owners. We designed a fully managed all-in-one Resident Benefits Package that does just that. The RBP provides benefits, incentives, and concierge services that residents want to pay for and stay for. It drives up value for everyone involved and delivers a unique and elevated experience. “A resident benefits package – you hear people call it the easy button. That’s because it is essentially all of these different services and all of these different, valuable add-ons for your residents that are done for you.” - Kelli Segretto, Property Management Inc. Learn more about the Second Nature RBP, or dig into our 2023 State of Resident Experience Report.

Calendar icon July 18, 2023

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Mastering Lease Management for Your Property Management Company

In the dynamic world of residential property management, mastering the art of lease management is more than just a strategic business move; it's the cornerstone of cultivating strong, trusting relationships between investors, property managers, and residents. After all, at the heart of every lease agreement is something profoundly personal: a person's home. Lease management extends far beyond the realm of contracts, finances, and legal compliance. Yes, these elements are undeniably crucial, but effective lease management is also about understanding and respecting the unique needs, expectations, and concerns of the people we serve. It's about combining professional acumen with empathy, maintaining a human touch in an industry that can often seem dominated by numbers and legal jargon. In this article, we have three experts who know what that’s all about. With them, we'll explore the lease management process, focusing not only on the technical aspects but also on the human elements that can make all the difference. We'll delve into why a compassionate approach to lease management can lead to better resident relationships, improved resident retention, and, ultimately, a more successful and rewarding property management experience. So, whether you're a seasoned property manager or just starting your journey, there's something here for you. Let's get started. (Or, if you prefer listening over reading, you can hear our full discussion on the Triple Win Podcast!) Meet the Experts Melissa Gillispie JWB Property Management Director of Leasing & Property Management Located in Florida - 5,600+ Doors Under Management David Galant Pathway Properties, LLC Owner / Principal Real Estate Broker (Licensed Broker in Utah & California) Licensed Continuing Education Instructor Utah Division of Real Estate Most recently, with Atlas Real Estate as a Regional Director Located in Utah - 50 Doors Under Management - started up 3.5 months ago Kristin Leet One Focus Property Management Leasing Agent - Boots on the Ground North Central Pennsylvania - 600 Doors Under Management Understanding Lease Management: What It Is Lease management is the process of overseeing and controlling all aspects of lease agreements between a landlord and tenant – or, in the language that we prefer to use here at Second Nature – the investor and resident. It includes tasks such as drafting lease agreements, screening potential tenants, handling rent collection, managing lease renewals, and maintaining clear communication lines between all parties involved. Effective lease management ensures a seamless experience for both residents and property owners, aiding in resident retention and maximizing rental income for your investors. Understanding Lease Management: Why it Matters Our panel has tons of advice on tactics, KPIs, and processes for effective lease management. But first, they say, it’s important to establish why it matters to get it right. “When you think about housing, it’s a basic human need,” Melissa says. “That’s the human element. Obviously, we lean on automation and technology to support us, but I think that as things have changed in our industry – and this generation of renters has changed – so must our processes evolve in order to meet the needs of the people that we serve and to impact our local communities.” David adds: “One of the basic human needs is shelter. Another way to look at it is some of the most stressful events in your life are death, divorce, and moving. So we’re dealing with high-stress situations. To be fair to the owners, to the prospective residents, and to your team, the lease management process needs to be efficient, organized, and systematized.” According to Kristin, that’s part of achieving a Triple Win: “A guiding principle is helping qualified tenants find a place that is safe, affordable, and something that they can be proud of. I’m also making sure that I’m doing my due diligence to our clients so they’re getting the best return. We want to give everyone involved an experience that's worthwhile and makes them want to continue to do business with us.” Steps in the Lease Management Process So, with a lease agreement established and prepared, let’s get to the meat of the conversation: each step of the lease management process. We’ll talk through the process and share insights from our panel on each 1. Preparing the Property Before listing a rental property, ensure it's in excellent condition to attract potential residents. This may include repairs, painting, professional cleaning, or upgrading certain features. “We have what's called our JWB Livability standards,” Melissa says. “Does this home meet our company standards? If it doesn't, then we need to make sure we're addressing those things. The more that you invest on the front end in making sure that a property is showing in an amazing way you're going to get that back with a resident who is proud of the place, going to take care of it and lead to a hopefully long-term resident.” 2. Marketing the Property Effectively advertise your property on appropriate platforms to reach your target audience. Quality photos, detailed descriptions, and highlighting of key features can help attract potential tenants. Kristin describes how important the details are here: “Are your pictures fantastic? Are there clear pictures of each room? I get comments all the time from people who say they love that you can get a feel of the property from our ads, just from the pictures or video. Video is such a powerful tool.” 3. Property Tours Hosting property tours is an integral part of the lease management process. It's an opportunity for potential residents to view the property firsthand and for you to showcase the property's best features. This is where your best sales skills come in. Kristin talks about how this is the chance to be the face of your brand. “I'm the one they see in the beginning, I'm the face that welcomes you in, makes you love the place. It’s so important to be positive and create this sense of home and comfort because the rest of it can be more stressful.” Melissa emphasizes that the property tour is the time to “warm it up. Our leasing agents are the ones who can draw people in and get people to open up and tell them what they're really looking for.” 4. Tenant Screening and Selection Next, you’ll conduct thorough background checks, credit checks, and rental history reviews on potential residents. This helps ensure you select reliable residents who will care for the property and meet their financial obligations. This is an intense part of the process for the potential residents. Kristin explains: “It’s meaty. We're going to ask for every single piece of information, and then we're going to let them know if they’re approved. As aggressive as that can sound, it's up to me to basically say, ‘Listen, we know it's a lot, but it's a lot because it's worth it.’” 5. Lease Signing Once a tenant is selected, you’ll conduct a lease signing meeting. Review the lease terms, answer any questions, and have all parties sign the lease agreement. It’s important to be transparent about the terms of the lease beforehand and ensure that residents feel comfortable and understand what they’re signing. Kristin again: “We have a very transparent website. Our leases are on there, so people can actually read the lease before they even come to us.” 6. Lease Renewals Monitor lease end dates and communicate with residents in advance about renewal options. Offering incentives or showing appreciation can encourage lease renewals and increase resident retention. Melissa explains that their company aims for long-term leases for a triple win: “A long-term lease is that security for the client, and it also locks in rental rates for the resident. It comes back to that triple win concept: the resident wins because they're not subject to significant rent increases based on the market every single year. It's great for the client because they have a little more assurance of long-term occupancy. And then we win because we hit our goals! And we all love to hit our goals.” Leveraging Technology for Lease Management Of course, one of the best tools at a property manager’s disposal for lease management is technology. Property management software and other digital solutions can streamline, automate, and simplify nearly every aspect of the lease management process. Especially since the 2020 pandemic, technology and automation have taken over in the industry. “That change [to digital] was inevitable,” David says, “but Covid really accelerated it. People were starting to dip their toes in the water with video tours and better pictures, and better online presence. And then Covid just forced that change.” Our panel shared some of their insights on the best places to leverage that tech to make your process the best it can be. Self-showings “Almost every company I've ever spoken with at this point does some level of self-showing,” Melissa said. “We use Tenant Turner and CodeBox,” David said. “And then leases are put in and automated through Buildium, which we use as our software suite.” Property management software We’ve written a lot about the best property management software, property management accounting software, and property management automation, so we won’t get in-depth about it here. The market has dozens of excellent solutions, and property managers are fantastic at sharing their knowledge. The software helps support client management, maintenance workflows, payment processes, resident relationships, and more. Virtual assistants Virtual assistants have grown as a major solution in the property management space. Especially in single-family rentals, jobs can be spread out across large geographic regions, and virtual assistants make it possible to serve those regions equally. Plus, they help PMCs maintain objectivity when it comes to the leasing process. Kristin explains the value of a virtual assistant: “So we have one dedicated person here at the company that does our applications, and the reason why we do that is that it eliminates any kind of discrimination. She is a virtual assistant, she does not meet with people in person. It eliminates her having a personal opinion while she's scoring the application. She has contact with them via email and things like that.” Digital solutions and video Digital marketing and video tours or social media posts are one of the leading ways to capture attention and serve potential residents. “I get in front of a camera with a tripod,” Kristin says. “I introduce myself and talk about the company that I'm from. I tell them what the address is, I give them a whole walkthrough tour, and I do an outro. When it’s over, they know what our website is, they know how to apply, they know how to book a tour.” “That personal touch right there helps get people in the door. It's not catfishing someone into believing that a property is any more than what it actually is because they're going to see it. It’s really presenting a property for what it is in the best way possible.” Best Practices for Effective Lease Management Melissa, David, and Kristin shared some of their top tips for building a better lease management process. Deliver digital content and contactless engagement The modern renter is looking for faster, more convenient, and, of course, contactless. “Renters more and more want contactless, like you get when you DoorDash something or order on Amazon and all of that – that’s the new norm,” David says. “The consumer is expecting a thorough, interactive, high-quality experience with digital solutions and online content.” Be flexible and responsive “Remote work has increased migration to different markets in different states,” David says. “Time zones have become blurred. Customers want responsiveness outside of normal Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours for inquiries on vacant properties.” He adds, “I think the pace of the leasing process has increased in terms of the speed. We're dealing with a more informed consumer. They want more information upfront, they want it quickly, and they want to make a quicker decision. There's a feeling that the pace is faster.” “I think that's the new norm, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It causes people to up their game and be better. And I think it benefits the property management ecosystem.” Stick to your criteria There are laws guiding leasing standards, and it’s critical that your criteria are fair and apply consistently. “Our criteria are firm,” Kristin says. “Every single applicant goes through the same criteria and same processes, and we don't deviate from that. We don't take your personal situation into account or make exceptions for people.” “Sure, you can customize and meet people where they're at,” Melissa says. “But there has to be some level of: what is the standard you are setting? Because ultimately, you want to treat people the same. And I think with leasing specifically, we are obligated to.” Clearly define workflows and process All three of our panelists describe clearly defined processes and roles within their company for the leasing process. Leasing agents provide that first touch and personalization; then you may have a virtual assistant or leasing assistant who helps follow up and get applications in; then it may go to a supervisor who approves the application, all the way back to the leasing agent who sends the lease out. “We use a process for every single thing that we do,” Kristin says. “If we follow it correctly from start to finish, there's not a point where anyone can say: ‘You didn't approve me because of this.’” Follow up on feedback David explains that asking for feedback is key to their leasing process. “We reach out to prospective residents that toured but haven't moved forward, and we ask them, ‘What did you see? Do you have any feedback on the property? We're very direct because it will help us market the property better.” “One thing we do in our department meeting with our leasing team every week is to have a structure for them to talk through any feedback they received from showings the previous week,” Melissa says. “Then we take immediate action on that feedback when needed. I think you get to make changes and actually improve when you ask for feedback.” Pay attention to pricing “You need to understand where your price is at,” David says. “Is it reflective of the market? Before we engage with an owner prior to a vacancy, we actually put together a spreadsheet that's almost like a rental analysis appraisal. And we'll have subject properties, we'll have adjustments, and we’ll make a recommendation.” If a property isn’t selling, evaluating price fit is a key step. “We have what's called a 10-day rule,” Kristin says. “If it's on the market for 10 days and we haven't gotten an application, we drop the rent. It's an expectation that we set with the owners when we put the property on the market: Is it better to take less rent, or is it better to just leave your property vacant? And nine times out of 10, they want to get the rent.” “One thing that's cool is we have rent escalations built into our lease agreements,” Melissa says. “And so even if we have to make a rent reduction while it's on the market in order to really drive in more leads and get it to move, we're then building in an escalation so that hopefully, by the end of that lease term, we sign long-term leases.” Focus on customer service “Since Covid, there seems to be a more consistent customer service experience across the industry,” David says. “Everyone's voice is amplified, especially the consumer. Their vote counts, thanks to things like Yelp, Google reviews, etc. They can really hurt or help your company's brand.” Balance tech with a human touch “There's one specific part of the leasing management process I think takes the most time,” David says, “and that's between the property tour and getting the application complete. Everything else is pretty automated. But getting that person over the hump to make a decision requires a human touch and follow-up. That's a big commitment. It takes the most amount of time, and you’ve got to be present.” “Ultimately, everybody needs to feel safe and secure with where they are,” Kristin says. “If we can get them on board with starting to get comfortable with technology right from the beginning, it helps eliminate hurdles that they have getting through the process and getting them into the place that they want to call home. But it takes that human touch.” Perfect your KPIs The last step, but what Melissa says could be the most important step: Analyzing the data with KPIs. “We lean heavily on data in our office,” Melissa says, “and I think it's really important as a professional property manager that we all have something that tracks and measures how we're doing compared to the industry, our peers, and benchmarking even against ourselves year over year.” Melissa says they use data to track conversion at every stage: from lead to showing schedule, showing scheduled to showing completed, showing completed to application submitted, and application submitted to application approved. “This is a benchmark against ourselves to help understand if there's any cyclicality to leasing, which I think there is. We track those metrics to say, What's in our pipeline at any point, and then how are we converting from each to the next?” David adds that in addition to seeing annual seasonality, it helps to see daily trends. “It’s not only the time of year, but are they looking more on the weekend or in the evening, or on a Wednesday?” A few other favorite KPIs from our panel: “Market to Move-in” - the time from when a home hits the market to the time someone moves in Time from viewing to application submittal Time from application submittal to turnover Clicks and engagement with ads Application count Average lease term Final Thoughts: Focusing on the Triple Win In the end, the most successful leasing process will focus on driving maximum comfort and value for your client, your residents, and your team. “We’re basing our leasing process on the Triple Win philosophy,” David says. “You're matching a resident with their home, you're helping them out, they're getting sheltered, they're happy, they're comfortable. If you do it right, you’re minimizing their stress. “You're also stabilizing the property or the asset and securing income for the owner. “And finally, it’s a win for your team and your company because you have a satisfied resident, a satisfied owner, and you're building goodwill for your business from these positive interactions.” Learn more about our study on what’s making residents happy in 2023.

Calendar icon July 11, 2023

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Pet Policy For Renters: Best Practices for Property Managers

Did you know that well over half of U.S. households (66%) own a pet? But, according to the Humane Society of the United States, problems finding and keeping rental housing is a leading reason that dogs and cats end up in shelters. Building a pet policy for renters is an important decision for property management companies. Promoting a pet-friendly listing can be a fantastic way to fill units more quickly – and retain good residents over time. Pet owners are less likely to leave a good pet-friendly home. So, how can you build pet-friendly policies that create a welcoming space for pet owners but protect your business and your property investor’s assets? We sat down with an expert on the topic: Victoria Cowart from PetScreening. We asked her about the key components of an effective pet policy, how to dial in on protective restrictions, how to structure a lease agreement, and more. Read on to learn with us about best practices when building a pet policy for renters. Meet the Expert: Victoria Cowart, CPM, NAAEI Faculty, PetScreening’s Director of Education and Outreach With an early start as a leasing agent, Victoria Cowart built her career in the industry managing apartment communities and a diverse portfolio. Thanks to her years of management experience, Cowart is now a property management instructor and graduate of both the NAAEI Advance Facilitator Training and the NAA Lyceum Program. She has served in the NAA as President of local and state affiliates, the Regional VP for Region IV, and chaired four committees. She joined PetScreening over two years ago and says she has found her “joy zone” there, focused on education, legislation, and sales. Standard pet policy and rules We started by asking Cowart to talk about the key components of an effective pet policy. Her rule #1? Consistency. “The best policies are the ones consistently applied,” Cowart says. When building a pet policy, property managers need to be decisive and apply the rules fairly and consistently – and in compliance with the law – with every unit. With that in mind, a pet policy should have standard rules and statements, including: Pet Restrictions: Any breed or other restrictions Pet Requirements: Licenses, vaccinations, leashing, etc. Pet Charges: How to charge for pets in a fair way Tenant Responsibilities: What is the resident responsible for? Pet Agreement: How to get it all written down and stay compliant Cowart warns not to make easy assumptions about each of these pet policy components. To build a pet-friendly, safe environment, you need to carefully asses what risk means to you, to your investors, and to your residents. “Of course, there’s risk bringing pets into your rentals,” Cowart says. “Bites, property damage, etc. But many companies want to add arbitrary rules thinking it will dial back their risk. For example, breed and weight restrictions, if you’re relying only on that, are very arbitrary without context. If you do want to include breed or weight restrictions, rely on that in combination with other factors. Alone it is insufficient. In combination with other data points and information, it does have relevance.” So, let’s dig a little deeper into each of the key steps in building a strong and resident-friendly pet policy. Components of an effective pet policy for residents A Forbes study found that 85% of dog owners and 76% of cat owners consider their pets to be part of the family. Animals contribute to mental, emotional, and physical health and can be one of the best parts of life. But, of course, pets also introduce risk. A new kitten can do some serious damage to a home, or a frightened dog off-leash could potentially bite a neighbor. That’s where your pet policy comes in. An effective pet policy can support residents with furry family members, minimize your exposure to risk, boost your ancillary income, protect your investors’ assets, and even help increase your occupancy rate. Cowart helped us break down the individual components of an effective pet policy for renters. Pet Restrictions The first thing you need to do is consider and document any restrictions around pets allowed on your properties. This includes considering a no pet policy. Cowart strongly opposes a no pet policy for a multitude of reasons, many of which we’ve discussed here. But let’s say you are going to allow some pets. You can start with what types of animals you’ll allow. Most property managers will stick to the typical domesticated animals like dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish, etc. State or federal laws will prohibit certain animals – obvious ones like leopards or tigers and perhaps less obvious ones like ferrets, hedgehogs, monkeys, or even turtles in some states. Breed and weight restrictions Many property management companies also impose breed restrictions and weight restrictions for pet dogs, as Cowart mentioned. But Cowart encourages PMCs to consider that, without more context, those restrictions aren’t sufficient – they may disqualify perfectly safe dogs with good residents and may not protect you from unusually aggressive or problem animals that fit within your weight and breed limits. In fact, a 2022 study published in the journal Science found that breed only accounts for 9% of the variation in dog behavior. The rest is determined by factors such as environment, owner behavior, training, socialization, and more. Behavior restrictions Cowart recommends basing restrictions on a much more holistic view of each individual pet. At PetScreening, they use a proprietary scoring system called the FIDO Score that uses over 35 distinct data points to evaluate the risk any type of animal or pet poses for a home. The scoring system involves 23 questions and then runs it through an algorithm to score a dog from 1 (the lowest) to 5 (the highest). These scores are based on the animal’s unique profile. Then, you can make decisions based on the unique animal’s profile. Cowart says, “No company should welcome a one- or two-paw FIDO-rated pet into their community without thoroughly analyzing the pet profile as to why they scored this. I personally recommend to clients that if an animal has ever bitten a person, they should not welcome that pet into a rental. Should they bite someone again, it could be said you knew or should have known they posed a risk.” Pet Requirements The next part of your policy should include what is required for any pets on your property. This might include a certain level of FIDO score or similar rating. That’s up to individual property management companies. They should definitely include requirements such as: Proof of up-to-date vaccinations Requirements to wear collars with ID tags Municipal license receipt Number of pets Types of pets Etc. ‍ It’s important to be familiar with any requirements mandated by your state or local laws, as well. Pet Insurance Nine out of 10 professional property managers require residents to carry insurance on the lease, but only 41% of residents maintain compliant coverage. Insurance is key to protecting your residents and your properties in the event of an issue. Dog bite insurance losses alone cost $882 million in the US in 2021. According to the CDC, over 4.5 million Americans are bitten each year by dogs. 800,000 of them require medical attention, and over 1,000 per day require emergency care. And yet, many insurers don’t cover certain breeds, like pit bulls or Rottweilers, despite the fact that breed plays little role in behavior, as we’ve discussed. To take matters into their own hands, many property management companies are turning to a Resident Benefits Package that includes a renter’s insurance program. At Second Nature, our renter’s insurance program has 100% compliance – and we cover all dog breeds with no exceptions. Pet Fees Allowing pets at your properties is also a great way to drive ancillary income. Deposit fees or monthly fees – called pet rent – can help hedge your risk and protect you, the resident, and your investor. So, what’s the best way to set up your pet fees? “Number one, know the laws in your area,” Cowart says. “Municipalities and states have certain regulations. For example, one state recently passed a law where their pet rents could not exceed $35 a month, and the pet deposit was limited to $300. One or two states may have rules like that, so the first thing is always to know the laws where you are conducting business.” Once you’ve got your local ordinances straight, Cowart says she is an advocate of installing a pet entry fee and a monthly pet rent fee vs. charging a pet deposit. This protects you in case of needed evictions or other unfortunate circumstances. “You don’t want to be constrained to having a pet deposit only applicable to pet damage on the property,” Cowart says. “Meanwhile, this person is evicted and owes you thousands of dollars of rent, and you have to give back the pet deposit if it’s not pet-specific damage.” Instead, Cowart says, include the “pet deposit” in your regular security deposit. “I would suggest if you want a pet deposit, just increase your base deposit and don’t call it a pet deposit. You don’t want to be out money just because you've delineated the deposit for a particular use.” Tenant Responsibilities Cowart says that at PetScreening, they ask 23 questions across several categories. For example, three of the questions are on bite history alone. But the main breakdown of these questions is to sort out liability and responsibility. Liability has to do with what we’ve covered above – bite history, risk, etc. Responsibility has to do with, according to Cowart, “how your potential resident, as a pet owner, is going to ensure that their pet doesn’t have an adverse impact on the rental property or the community. Cowart recommends asking questions like: Will they pick up after their animal? Will they walk the animal on a leash? Do they take the animal for routine veterinary care? Is it up to date on its vaccinations? Your pet policy should clearly define and outline the responsibilities on the part of the resident. Cowart says, “Identify core responsibilities that you expect from the owners: keeping them under control, leashing, never outside unattended, basic vaccinations up to date, etc.” “Most often, the problems aren’t with the animals, they’re with the owners,” Cowart says. “If you have a Belgian Malinois, and you think you just have a skinny German Shepard, you are wrong. If they’re some sort of herding animal and they’re used to having a whole communal group that they’re nipping the heels of, but now they’re in an apartment. Now they don’t have that job, and they’re feeling unemployed, and so they’re going to find a job.” In short, pet owners need to be responsible for ensuring their animal’s behavior is safe. Pet Agreement or Pet Addendum You should absolutely incorporate a pet agreement in your lease. You want to put all of this work we’ve discussed in writing. Include all the fees, restrictions, violation penalties, etc. The pet section of your lease should be included in all leases because anyone could become a pet owner at any time. When it comes to a pet agreement, Cowart’s strongest advice is to follow the best practices of your local property management association, apartment association, etc. “Make sure you’re educated on the laws in your area,” Cowart says. “Associations involved in property management in your area – NAA, NARPM, AHMA – can help educate you on what you need to know.” The biggest area of risk and confusion for the lease agreement is assistance animals. Let’s take a whole section to examine assistance animals. What about assistance animals? The restrictions we’ve discussed above, and charges, etc. – most do not apply when it comes to assistance animals. Fair housing laws apply strictly to assistance animals. Cowart’s most important piece of advice? “First and foremost, understand what Assistance Animals are because that’s the biggest area of confusion for property managers. What you can or can’t do, what you can charge owners, and what you require they do before you admit them to the community. There is a massive difference, by law.” There are two types of assistance animals: service animals and support animals. Service animals and support animals or emotional support animals are handled totally differently under the Fair Housing Act. An assistance animal is NOT classified as a pet. Cowart emphasizes that you should never have an assistance animal owner sign off on anything with the word “pet” in it because it’s not a pet, it’s a disability device. “I facilitate a 45-minute session on this alone,” Cowart says. “Property managers should look at the FHEO-2020-01 Assistance Animal’s notice for additional information on HUD’s guidance.” Tools to help manage your pet policy It can be daunting to take on the challenge of simultaneously managing risk and creating a welcoming environment for residents with pets. But with the right approach – and the right tools – property managers are creating pet-friendly rental policies that protect both their business and their investor’s assets. PetScreening.com, where Victoria Cowart is a leading educator, provides a holistic approach to preparing your properties for pets. Their proprietary FIDO scoring helps take the guesswork out of assessing risk and revenue. And here at Second Nature, we provide a fully managed Resident Benefits Package that provides services your residents want and need without adding a burden to your team. We focus on creating an experience so good that residents never want to leave. Our RBP includes one of the country’s most robust pet policies in our Renter’s Insurance Program. The policy is friendly to all breeds and supports responsible residents who want to find a warm home for their furry family members. At the same time, the insurance ensures that you and your investor are covered in case of any risk event. Have thoughts or questions about building a pet-friendly, risk-intelligent pet policy? Share them in our Triple Win Community.

Calendar icon June 20, 2023

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14 Bizarre Items Found in Rental Properties | RBP by Second Nature

Disclaimer: We asked for the weirdest, the most bizarre, the most surprising… and property managers delivered. You may want to check over your shoulder before scrolling if you’re in a public coffee shop or you have little ones at home! Nobody can ever deny that property managers have some great stories. We asked around to find some of the weirdest, craziest, more preposterously bizarre stories of items left behind by residents to be discovered by property managers. We figured these would be weird. We were right. 14 Weird and Strange Things We Found After Move Out Get ready for bizarre! A grenade “A LIVE RPG (rocket propelled grenade). Seriously did not think it was active but called the bomb squad just to be safe. We shut down 10 blocks for an entire day” RBP>RPG (learn about our Resident Benefits Package) An entire car “A 1966 fox body Mustang. Engine and all. Who does that?” Fun fact: The 2000 comedy film starring Ashton Kutcher titled "Dude, Where's My Car" is actually based on this. A cannabis farm “Basement full of beautiful, huge, marijuana plants. Evicted for not paying the rent. They could have paid rent for a long time if they knew how to run their pot growing business 🤣” Never get high on your own supply An assassin kit? “My cleaning lady pulled the stove out and found a secret cabinet behind it. It had an uzi handgun, silencer, bump stock and other attachments. It was super creepy. I had the sheriff's office come get it.” Yeah that's a mob safe house you got there Farm life “A very angry rooster” You know, I really hate it when I forget my rooster Snakes! “Boa constrictor shedded skin under a couch. Where is the snake?!?!” Hopefully you burned down the house immediately just to be safe Pool pickles? “Pickles in the skimmer basket of a pool.” May not see a weirder one than this as long as olive Dead cats... “Dead cats in freezer and also had one that had white powder on everything in the apartment couldn’t see floor due to powder. They left everything they owned. They had Bed bugs. Took forever to get that cleaned. Broke 3 brand new vacuums. Just trying to clean it up after pulling all carpet. Also had a unit that had burnt aluminum foil all over the place from drugs gun shot holes and someone tried to drive through the apartment. So busted brick inside apartment.” Please park in the driveway, not the kitchen. Thank you for your understanding All their worldly possessions “A house full of furniture. No packing at all. Looked like they just left for work. All of the family items were left behind including all the china, crystal, silver, and linens in the DR. Only thing not left was a couple of TV's and a bed. Took a crew of 8 to empty the house in 6 hours and took 8 trips to haul off from the junk service. Amazing!” "I swear, Bob! This is the last time you are packing the car!" A placenta “Defrosted placenta” No comment More cats... “Dead/stuffed cat. We had fun with that one” Ever move to a new place and get the feeling you're missing something important? This resident did not get that feeling. ...and even more cats “17 cat urns” The only thing worse than this would be finding 18 cat urns Frog hatchery “I also had an entire pool of frog eggs. They hadn't hatched to tadpoles yet. And if you've never seen them, they look like long strings.” Figured we'd find some poles when we put this list together but was not expecting this type. NSFW "Dancer pole" And there it is Want to see the photos/more from the thread? Click here and join our free private Facebook group for property managers. ” Do you have one that would have made the list? Email alower@secondnature.com

Calendar icon May 23, 2023

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What is A Triple Win and How Do I Achieve One?

The Triple Win = long-term growth and success What is a Triple Win? A Triple Win is a simple but effective concept in property management in which everyone benefits. There are three parties that are involved in a property management transaction: The investor, who owns the property and is seeking a high return on investment. The property manager, who manages the property for the investor and is seeking to grow a successful business. And finally the resident, who lives in the property and is seeking a great living experience. A Triple Win is the concept of each party accomplishing all of these things at once. Solutions like Resident Benefits Package (RBP) and Investor Benefits Package (IBP) spring from this value-generating mindset. Why is it important? The Triple Win is a relatively new idea in the PM space, but it’s quickly becoming the cornerstone of industry-leading businesses. This is because property management as a whole is becoming commoditized. The service of managing properties is getting harder and harder to differentiate from other providers. This trend eventually ends in a state called “perfect competition”, where consumers (in this case investors) don’t perceive differences between the offerings of different companies and are likely to select the cheapest option. Throw in the growth of property management software that investors can operate themselves, and the need for a basic property management service in the future rapidly declines. Not surprisingly, the key to success in the future is to provide something better than a basic property management service. This is where the Triple Win comes in by providing real tangible value to all parties to create an experience that cannot be matched by old-school companies and software. The Triple Win is important because companies that fail to evolve with this changing industry will be left behind and eventually go out of business. Creating a Triple Win is a fool-proof way to ensure the evolution of your business. How do I create a Triple Win? Pt. 1. The investor JWB Real Estate Capital was one of the first property management companies to identify the long-term value of the Triple Win. The business is built around the idea of helping real estate investors achieve the highest possible ROI, and it does this by creating a Triple Win that keeps ROI high for investors via low vacancy rates and other costs. This concept has led to a number of practices that help achieve that goal including some that actually subtract from JWB’s short-term profit. One of these is the long-term lease, which cuts the income JWB receives from tenant placement fees pretty dramatically. However, this creates a lot of value for the investor, whose vacancy and tenant placement costs are much lower. JWB also works closely with their clients to create a detailed plan for real estate investment that’s designed to maximize the investor’s ROI. It’s a property management company, but a lot more than property management is going on here. That’s the key. It’s this excellent experience JWB provides that drives business from long-term investors, which adds sustainability to the business model. It’s differentiated and it creates unique value, so the short-term profit decrease is offset by the growth and retention of clients that understand the benefits of working with JWB can’t be matched by any old run-of-the-mill PM business. Auben Realty has built their literal company structure around experiences that create a Triple Win. They employ Investor Experience Managers and Resident Experience Managers to enable clear communication and quick action on the needs of both other parties. Again, this is differentiated and creates unique value that an investor won’t typically realize from a scaled company that is still operating with a basic service. Creating a Triple Win for the investor is about creating value. Ask yourself right now, “what am I doing to help my clients achieve maximum ROI?” and, “what am I doing to make communication as easy as possible and streamline the real estate investment experience for my clients?” The value they perceive from you simply managing their properties is dying, so you need to create value beyond that in order to build a business that’s worth the cost to employ. Pt. 2. The resident So what about the resident side of this? Recall that JWB’s long-term lease decreases vacancy costs for investors. Vacancy doesn’t just create costs though, it’s unrealized profit if nobody is paying rent. So vacancy, not surprisingly, is the number one thing your investors want to avoid, meaning resident retention becomes a priority. This is why resident experience has become a key term in property management. The best way to decrease vacancy is to provide a resident experience so great they don’t want to leave the property. "So traditional property management, we’re focused on the investor. That’s our client. The resident pays rent. If you don’t pay rent, we’ll find someone else who can. We wanted to kind of think outside the box there and say ‘okay, the resident is important in investing because if we can decrease vacancy and reduce turnover and keep the residents happy, they’ll stay in our properties for long periods of time and ultimately increase the investor’s return as well.’” - Auben Realty CEO Phil Vera Providing an exceptional resident experience is challenging, but this is really where property management companies can differentiate themselves and create something that commoditization can’t touch. You can’t really commoditize an experience, and a devoted team of property managers that can create such an experience for residents will decrease vacancy rates to a point where investors have no choice but to work with a professional PM if they want to maximize ROI. The industry-leading method for resident experience is RBP by Second Nature. Ancillary income programs like RBP can help create a fantastic resident experience by offering real valueIt takes all the work out of creating and managing a great resident experience. RBP is a suite of services that property managers can purchase and add to a rental agreement for the express purpose of creating that unmatched experience. Every single one of these services is managed externally for you by Second Nature. You don’t have to do anything. It’s so simple to implement, it’s not even plug-and-play. It’s just... plug. Resident Services within RBP by Second Nature include things like Rental Rewards, which make residents feel valued by management and also incentivizes on-time rent payment for the investor. Programs like identity protection and credit building are great tools that many residents wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Even one-call utility setup creates a great resident experience, as getting all the utilities working for a property can certainly be a hassle, and efforts to make settling into their new home easier are rarely lost on residents. Pt. 3. The property manager Happy residents and happy investors lead to happy property managers. RBP creates a great resident experience that ladders up to the investor’s experience, all of which benefits the PM in the end. That’s the Triple Win in a nutshell. The PM is focused on the needs of the client and the resident, and everybody wins as a result. This is the future of property management. External pressures on the industry have made it so. Creating a Triple Win creates value that can’t be realized in any way other than working with a professional property manager. That’s how you escape the grasp of commoditization and technological innovation, and companies that don’t orient themselves towards a Triple Win will be left behind.

Calendar icon May 18, 2023

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Don’t Fear Pushback When Implementing An RBP

Pushback from residents and investors is a common fear when rolling out a resident benefits package, but there is no need to fear. ‍ With resident benefits packages and investor benefits packages being still a relatively new concept in property management, it’s understandable to have some concerns about implementing them. The chief among these is typically resident pushback, which tracks logically with the concept “people don’t like being charged for stuff.” Fearing pushback or a negative response when adding costs to a resident is understandable, but with RBP by Second Nature, pushback is rarely observed in practice. Value Creation Reduces Pushback ‍1 out of 80 residents objected to West USA's RBP rollout Second Nature Head of Sales Bob Hansen, during a workshop at NARPM’s national conference in Kansas City, touched on how infrequently his clients experience pushback during rollout. “For those of you that are a little hesitant about rolling it out or unsure. I recall Director of Property Management at West USA Realty Dave Pruitt talked about rolling out his Resident Benefits Package on a podcast. He rolled it out to people real quick and I think of 80 people, one person pushed back.” That one person did not renew their lease as a result, but Pruitt filled the property with a willing renter a day after and never looked back. Resident pushback proves to be minimal because the programs you’re implementing are creating value. People generally don’t mind paying for things they deem worth the money. Thus, a big key to a successful rollout is making sure what you’re providing is a value add for the resident. Revolution Rental Management CEO Todd Ortscheid elaborated on the concept further, saying “If you're providing a tangible benefit to someone, or even sometimes an intangible benefit, you know, we talked about 24/7 maintenance hotlines, and those sorts of things. These are all real benefits that people aren't able to get from someone else, and they're willing to pay for it.” Communication Is Key Effectively communicating these benefits also plays a big role in an effective and well-received rollout. There is a saying in marketing that “perception equals reality.” Really all that means is that the consumer’s perception of your product or service is what matters far more than the actual characteristics of it. Now, ideally, those things match, but poor marketing efforts and bad PR can create a negative perception of a worthwhile offering. For example, a package of benefits for a renter that adds value which exceeds what the renter pays for it is the reality of a resident benefits package, but the perception could be “more stuff I have to pay for.” This is why communication is key. Being transparent about what these programs are and why they’re helpful can help the perception match the reality, making onboarding much easier. The same is true for your clients, who may have fears of the additional costs putting off potential residents. These programs protect their asset and create a positive experience that actually helps retain residents. It quite literally makes them more money. The benefits dramatically outweigh the costs and the value created for both resident and investor is undeniable. Communicating this is key. Long-time PM Jennifer Stoops, who is the Vice President of Corporate Development at PURE Property Management, notes her decisive action at rollout that resulted in very little negative perception and pushback on her company’s RBP. “So we communicate with everybody first. We like to send information out to all our clients who are really excited about just letting them know what's going on. We updated our website, we updated right before you apply on our application, we updated any FAQs, everywhere that we had any information about applying, leasing from us anything at all, it was all put there. And we made a big deal out of it, because it was a value add.” The only real concern a property manager should have when considering rolling out a resident benefits package is what could happen if they don’t. In due time, a resident benefits package will be standard across an industry that is increasingly focused on resident retention. “So if tenants are moving around one management company to another, and you're the company who doesn't offer this, that's actually the thing that you should be afraid of, you know, thinking about being afraid of benefit packages, you don't want to be the one company who's not offering these things that are now becoming standard," says Ortscheid. "If that's what tenants are expecting to see, you know, all three, that's actually a problem.”

Calendar icon May 18, 2023

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