Calendar icon July 18, 2023

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.

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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. 

 

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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.

Keep learning

Property Management Pest Control Gone Wrong: Resident Horror Stories & Nightmares

In the world of property management and real estate investing, maintaining a clean and pest-free environment is central to the well-being of the residents who live in your properties. That being said, effective pest control is not only a best practice, but also a strategic move that enhances your properties’ living experience, making your life as a property manager easier and your residents happier. Pest control is crucial for several reasons: Investing in pest control saves significant potential costs by avoiding large-scale infestations and property damage, enhancing resident satisfaction with a healthier, pest-free environment, and preserving property value. This approach reduces health risks, protects against liability, and maintains a good reputation by demonstrating the property management company’s dedication to providing safe, comfortable living spaces for great tenants. Ultimately, pest control sets professional property management companies apart from DIY and amateur real estate investors by safeguarding both residents' well-being and property assets. By addressing these points, you can foster a positive living environment that benefits both you and your residents. It’s important to note that our goal is not to call out “good tenants” vs. “bad tenants.” Instead, we always aim to foster a constructive dialogue focused on addressing problems and finding solutions. By emphasizing respect and fairness, we can help create a positive environment that benefits all residents, ensuring their rights and dignity are always respected. Also note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. "House of Horror" Stories Most property managers have encountered their share of resident horror stories – and many, not for the first time. These tales often involve unexpected and severe pest infestations, made worse by residents' behaviors. Indeed, from bedbugs and roaches (the truly bad tenants any property manager is looking to be rid of) to animal issues, the range of pest problems is vast and daunting. Our "House of Horror Stories" video provides a vivid account of these situations, including some landlord horror stories that are too distressing to include here. Maggots falling from the ceiling: A tenant reported maggots falling from the ceiling onto their bed. The pest company discovered that these maggots were larvae of beetles infesting the air ducts in the neighborhood. Pets and extensive damage: Animals in one property caused extensive damage by covering all floors with feces and chewing through doors, door frames, flooring, HVAC systems, and appliances, with clean-up costs exceeding $15,000. Flushable wipes backup: A tenant flushing baby wipes caused a major sewage backup, leading to water damage throughout multiple rooms (including the living room and master bedroom), with clean-up costs close to $5,000. Donkey in the basement: During the purchase inspection, a donkey was found tied to the deck and later moved to the basement to hide it from animal control, calling for its quick removal. Rodents damaging appliances: Rats infested a property, chewing through a new dishwasher, insulation, and electrical wires, requiring repeated pest control visits and extensive repairs. These stories from a range of contributors highlight the unpredictable and often extreme challenges property managers face in maintaining their properties and ensuring the safety and well-being of their residents. How to Control Resident Pest Issues A robust pest control program is often the property manager’s best friend. After all, infestations can be difficult to proactively defend against, given that background checks, references, and tenant screening go only so far in uncovering the pest issues that can befall even the best tenants. Regardless of the challenges residents may present, a comprehensive pest control plan can mitigate potential infestations before they escalate into true horror stories. This includes timely intervention, and educating residents about maintaining cleanliness. Providing residents with clear guidelines on waste disposal and food storage can also significantly mitigate pest problems. Additionally, offering pest control services as part of a Resident Benefits Package can encourage residents to report issues early, allowing for swift action. Planning Ahead When dealing with problematic residents, it's essential to have a clear action plan. Issuing notices to clean the property promptly (e.g., with a 7-day notice period) is a critical first step. Leveraging a notice-to-clean template can streamline the process and ensure that you comply with tenant laws and legal standards. If worst things come to worst, an eviction notice may become necessary. However, this process is governed by various rules and regulations that can differ significantly across federal and state lines. It's important to be well-versed in these laws to avoid legal pitfalls. A detailed “notice to vacate” template can be incredibly helpful for property managers looking to take care of these complex situations. Nipping Things in the Bud In conclusion, maintaining a pest-free environment is integral to property management success. On-Demand Pest Control is a service in Second Nature’s fully managed Resident Benefits Package (RBP). It offers predictable, cost-effective, and fast solutions when a pest issue arises. Instead of expensive scheduled preventive treatments, residents can request service as needed. This approach ensures fast response times, directly addressing the problem at hand and saving costs over recurring treatments Property managers simply select the best pest plan from four tiers of service levels to include in their RBP. When an issue arises, the resident reports it in the On-Demand Pest Control portal, and the pest issue will be resolved. Learn more about On-Demand Pest Control by getting in touch, or read our latest study on the impact of our RBP on the resident experience.

Calendar icon July 3, 2024

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Your Guide to Property Management Laws, Regulations, & Rules

Property management activities involve overseeing rental properties, ensuring they’re maintained, residents are managed, and finances are handled effectively. While a real estate license is not always necessary to manage rental properties, licensing requirements can vary significantly by state. Typically, states may require property managers to hold a real estate license or work under a licensed broker. Property managers should familiarize themselves with the specific regulations in their state to ensure compliance. What Are Some Important Property Management Rules and Regulations? Property management laws encompass various areas, ensuring the safety, rights, and responsibilities of both property managers and tenants. Key areas include: Anti-discriminatory laws: Fair housing laws such as the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) prevent discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Lease paperwork: Legally binding lease agreements must include specific terms and comply with local regulations. Safety, maintenance, and repairs: Property managers must ensure properties meet habitability standards, including weatherproofing, heating, water, and electricity. Financial management: Proper handling of security deposits, monthly rent collection, and financial records is essential to comply with regulations and avoid disputes. Property management laws by state Each state has specific property management laws that property managers must adhere to. For instance, in many (but not all) jurisdictions, property managers must obtain a real estate broker license to operate. These laws are typically drafted and enforced by various regulatory bodies such as the state's Department of Real Estate or similar agencies. For instance, the California Department of Real Estate is responsible for regulating real estate activities, brokers, and salespersons, including those who work in property management, while the Texas Real Estate Commission handles these responsibilities in Texas. These agencies ensure compliance with state licensing laws and often provide resources and guidelines for property managers of both residential properties and commercial properties. Below is a table linking to the respective government sites for state-specific regulations: State State Body Alabama Alabama Real Estate Commission Alaska Alaska Real Estate Commission Arizona Arizona Department of Real Estate Arkansas Arkansas Real Estate Commission California California Department of Real Estate Colorado Colorado Division of Real Estate Connecticut Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Delaware Delaware Real Estate Commission Florida Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation Georgia Georgia Real Estate Commission and Appraisers Board Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Real Estate Branch Illinois Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Indiana Indiana Professional Licensing Agency Iowa Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, & Licensing Kansas Kansas Real Estate Commission (for commercial real estate property management only) Kentucky Kentucky Real Estate Commission Louisiana Louisiana Real Estate Commission Michigan Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Minnesota Minnesota Department of Commerce Mississippi Mississippi Real Estate Commission Missouri Missouri Division of Professional Registration Montana Montana Department of Labor and Industry Nebraska Nebraska Real Estate Commission Nevada Nevada Real Estate Division New Hampshire New Hampshire Real Estate Commission New Jersey New Jersey Real Estate Commission New Mexico New Mexico Real Estate Commission New York New York State Division of Licensing Services North Carolina North Carolina Real Estate Commission North Dakota North Dakota Real Estate Commission Ohio Ohio Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing Oklahoma Oklahoma Real Estate Commission Oregon Oregon Real Estate Agency Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation South Carolina South Carolina Real Estate Commission South Dakota South Dakota Real Estate Commission Tennessee Tennessee Real Estate Commission Texas Texas Real Estate Commission Utah Utah Division of Real Estate Virginia Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation Washington Washington State Department of Licensing West Virginia West Virginia Real Estate Commission Wisconsin Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Wyoming Wyoming Real Estate Commission Note: This list excludes resources from Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Tenant screenings Tenant screenings are a critical step in property management, involving background checks, credit checks, income verification, employment verification, rental history, and proof of ID to assess prospective tenants. This process helps ensure that potential renters are reliable and financially responsible. It's important to obtain signed consent before running credit checks, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), to comply with legal standards and protect tenant privacy. Another important guidance is provided by the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing-related activities based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability, ensuring equal access to housing for all individuals. Learn more about Tenant Screening Tips for PMs Lease agreements A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant, outlining the terms of the tenancy. Key components of rental agreements include lease terms, rent amount, security deposit regulations, and common clauses such as maintenance responsibilities and lease renewal terms. Regulations governing lease agreements can vary by state, so it's essential to ensure that leases comply with local laws. For instance, state laws often contain security deposit limits, provisions for the return of unused portions, as well as a clear accounting for any deductions. Consulting with a lawyer is crucial to ensure your agreement is legally sound and reflects your specific circumstances. We’ve shared some relevant resources below: Learn more about property management agreements, featuring a free template Learn about security deposit insurance, and its pros and cons Financial management Effective financial management in property management involves establishing clear rent collection procedures and maintaining organized financial records. This includes tracking rent payments, managing tenants’ security deposits, and adhering to landlord-tenant laws to avoid legal disputes and financial penalties. Keeping detailed records can help property managers resolve issues efficiently and ensure transparency with tenants and property owners. Solutions such as property management software can streamline financial operations, automate routine tasks, and perhaps most importantly - ensure accuracy and regulatory compliance with respect to various accounting regulations and legal requirements. Evictions Evictions are a legal process to remove a tenant from a property. Common reasons for eviction from rental units include nonpayment of rent, property damage, lease violations, and criminal activity. Property managers must follow their state's rules for eviction notices, such as unconditional quit terminations and termination for lease violations, to ensure the process is lawful and fair. State laws regarding unconditional quit terminations and terminations for violation of a lease vary widely. Unconditional quit notices typically demand that tenants move out immediately without an opportunity to remedy the violation. States like Indiana and Mississippi allow landlords to issue these notices for serious or repeated violations, with Mississippi requiring 14 days to move out. For lease violations, the notice period and the opportunity for tenants to remedy the breach also differ by state. For example, in Kentucky, tenants generally have 15 days of written notice to cure a violation, but if the same violation occurs within six months, landlords can issue a 14-day unconditional quit notice. In contrast, states like Iowa and Maine require a seven-day notice period for tenants to address lease violations before eviction proceedings can begin. In California, on the other hand, tenants must be given three days or more to cure the violation before landlords can file for eviction (source). These legal nuances emphasize the importance of PMs and tenants understanding their specific state regulations to navigate eviction processes appropriately. Property maintenance and repairs Maintaining rental properties is a legal obligation for landlords, ensuring that properties are safe, habitable, and free from hazards like lead, asbestos, and mold. This includes weatherproofing, providing adequate heating and water, and ensuring electrical systems are functional. You can find out more about these issues in our Property Maintenance Guide for PMs. Landlords must also give notice to tenants before entering the property for repairs, as required by most state laws. When in doubt, consult a legal advisor to ascertain the specific laws that apply to you in your state. Tenants have the right to a habitable living environment, and failure to meet these standards can lead to legal consequences as well as issues with occupancy rates. Indeed, when landlords fail to make required repairs, tenants have several options depending on their state's laws. Tenants may withhold rent, make the necessary repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the rent, pay a reduced rent, report the issue to local building inspectors who can order repairs, or even break the lease and move out. Additionally, tenants can sue the landlord for a partial refund of past rent or for damages caused by the substandard conditions, including discomfort and emotional distress. Get our preventative maintenance checklist for property management Learn about the importance of pest control to maintain a pest-free environment Second Nature's Guidance Staying informed about state-specific regulations, maintaining organized records, and ensuring compliance with federal laws such as the Fair Housing Amendments Act is key to successful property management. On a practical level, understanding and adhering to property management laws and regulations is crucial for property managers to ensure smooth operations, maintain property value, and foster positive tenant relationships. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon July 3, 2024

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