Calendar icon July 18, 2023

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.

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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.

 

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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.

Keep learning

SFR Property Management Problems and Solutions

In recent years, the single-family residence (SFR) rental market has seen significant growth as more property owners recognize the potential for steady income and long-term appreciation. With this rise in popularity comes a unique set of challenges for the rental property managers (PMs) who are tasked with overseeing these properties. Unlike multi-family units, managing single-family homes can present a range of issues that require tailored solutions. Scattered-site properties also present a logistical challenge, as they are by nature harder to service and manage. From finding quality residents to handling unexpected maintenance emergencies, a strategic and proactive approach is required to ensure a smooth and profitable rental experience. Note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" in order to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. What Are the Most Common Property Management Challenges? The most common problems faced by SFR property managers generally fall into three buckets: finding quality residents; maintenance and repairs; and time management and communication. Let's explore each. #1 Finding Quality Residents One of the most critical aspects of managing SFRs is resident placement. Indeed, inadequate resident screening processes can significantly impact resident retention as well as profitability. That’s because poor screening can lead to high turnover rates (including evictions), increased property wear and tear, and ultimately, financial strain. Additionally, attracting responsible residents who will treat the property with care and adhere to lease agreements can be particularly challenging in competitive rental markets. #2 Maintenance and Repairs Unexpected maintenance issues are a common hassle for SFR property managers. From plumbing leaks to HVAC failures, emergencies can arise without warning, leading to unplanned expenses and logistical challenges. Finding reliable and responsive contractors who are able to address repairs promptly adds yet another layer of complexity. The inability to swiftly manage these issues can result in resident dissatisfaction as well as potential property damage. #3 Time Management and Communication Managing multiple single-family homes requires excellent time management skills. Balancing the diverse needs of residents, coordinating with vendors, and ensuring regular property inspections can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential to establish clear and timely communication channels to maintain good resident relationships and efficient operations. However, juggling these responsibilities can lead to lapses in communication, resulting in time-consuming misunderstandings and unresolved issues. Solutions for a Smoother SFR Rental Experience While the challenges of managing SFR rentals are significant, there are effective strategies and tools available to streamline operations and enhance resident satisfaction. Here are some solutions to common property management business problems. Strategic Resident Screening Implementing a robust resident screening process is crucial for minimizing vacancy rates and securing responsible residents. To this end, utilizing professional screening services can help identify prospective tenants by thoroughly evaluating their rental history, credit scores, and background checks. Clear lease terms and expectations should be established from the outset to ensure residents understand the responsibilities and obligations that occupancy brings. Learn more: Tenant Screening Tips for PMs 10 Steps to Onboard New Tenants Proactive Maintenance Proactive maintenance is key to preventing costly emergencies and maintaining the property’s condition. Scheduling regular preventative maintenance inspections allows property managers to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. Building relationships with reputable and responsive repair professionals ensures that maintenance tasks and requests are handled promptly. Consider leveraging technology that allows residents to conduct their own regular inspections to provide early detection of problems and streamline the property maintenance process (learn more). Vendor and Supplier Selection Choosing the right property management service providers and vendors is crucial to successful property management. Establishing relationships with reliable and responsive contractors ensures that maintenance and repair issues are addressed promptly, reducing downtime and inconvenience for renters. It’s essential to vet vendors thoroughly, checking their credentials, references, and reviews to ensure they meet the necessary quality and reliability standards. Building a network of trusted professionals can lead to better service rates, priority scheduling, and consistent adherence to due dates as well as work quality standards. Additionally, negotiating long-term contracts with preferred vendors can offer cost savings and a more streamlined management process. By prioritizing quality vendor and supplier selection, property managers can enhance the overall efficiency of their operations and maintain high tenant satisfaction. Technology and Automation Incorporating technology and automation into property management can significantly enhance efficiency and communication. For instance, online portals for collecting rent payments and addressing maintenance requests simplify transactions and ensure transparency. They can also facilitate incentives for prompt rent payment, follow up on late payments, and generally optimize rent collection with an eye to optimizing cash flow. Property management software can also streamline vendor and tenant communication, track maintenance schedules, and provide detailed financial reporting. These tools not only save time but also build trust and improve resident satisfaction by ensuring quick and effective responses to their needs. Naturally, you will need to conduct a due diligence process of technology selection and provider assessment that addresses pricing, customer support, and support for the features that are mission-critical for your organization. Second Nature’s Outlook Effective property management is essential for maximizing the profitability and longevity of single-family home rentals. By addressing common challenges with strategic solutions, property managers can enhance resident satisfaction, reduce vacancy rates, and maintain the property’s value. Embracing technology and proactive management practices are critical components of any successful SFR business strategy. Property managers are encouraged to explore these solutions and adopt the approaches that best suit their specific needs. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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How to Craft a Notice to Tenant to Clean Property [with Template]

Ensuring that rental properties are well-maintained is crucial for property managers and landlords, not only to protect the value of their real estate investment but also to provide safe and pleasant living environments for residents. One important tool for maintaining property standards is a "Notice to Tenant to Clean Property" letter that communicates concerns about cleanliness and outlines necessary actions for residents. In today’s post we’ll cover essential elements you should consider around transparency and effectiveness, as well as a sample letter you can use to craft your own notice. A note on language: Here at Second Nature, we prefer to use the terms "resident" and “residency” rather than “tenant” and “tenancy,” in order to emphasize the human element of property management work. However, there may be instances where terms such as "tenant" are used for legal or industry-standard purposes within documents or communications. In these cases, please understand that our intent remains the same – to provide clear, accurate, and meaningful information to all people involved in the business relationship. What to Do When Your Tenant is a Hoarder? Hoarding can present significant challenges for property managers. It not only poses health and safety risks but can also lead to severe property damage. Here are steps to take when dealing with a hoarding situation: Understand the issue Hoarding is often a complex psychological condition that requires sensitivity and understanding. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and awareness of the resident’s potential mental health needs. This understanding can guide your interactions and help you manage the situation more effectively. Conduct thorough inspections Regular property inspections are crucial for identifying hoarding behaviors early. These inspections should be conducted in accordance with the lease agreement and local laws. Document any findings with photographs and detailed notes to provide a clear record of the condition of the property. Communicate clearly and compassionately When addressing the issue with the resident, clear and compassionate communication is key. Explain the concerns and the potential consequences if the situation is not addressed. Emphasize that the goal is to ensure a safe and habitable living environment. Provide a formal notice If the hoarding issue violates the lease agreement, a formal "Notice to Clean Property" may be necessary (more on this below). Collaborate with professionals In severe cases, it may be beneficial to involve professionals who specialize in hoarding disorder. This can include social workers, mental health professionals, or professional organizers who can provide the resident with the necessary support to address their hoarding behavior. Follow legal procedures Ensure all actions taken are in compliance with local and state laws. This includes providing the correct amount of notice, following proper eviction procedures if necessary, and respecting the resident’s rights throughout the process. Document all actions Keep thorough records of all communications, inspections, and notices related to the hoarding issue. This documentation can be crucial if legal action becomes necessary and helps protect you as the property manager. By addressing hoarding with a combination of empathy, clear communication, and adherence to legal requirements, property managers can manage these challenging situations more effectively while maintaining the safety and integrity of their properties. Identifying When a "Notice to Clean Property" Letter is Necessary A "Notice to Clean Property" letter becomes necessary under various circumstances. It's essential to recognize these situations in order to maintain the property's value and condition, and to ensure compliance with lease agreements. Routine inspections Routine inspections are an integral part of property management, allowing managers to identify issues early and address them before they escalate. If an inspection reveals unsanitary conditions, excessive clutter, hoarding, or neglect of cleanliness, a formal notice is warranted. This proactive measure helps maintain the property and encourages residents to uphold their end of the lease agreement. Failing to address these issues promptly can lead to severe problems such as mold growth, pest infestations, plumbing issues due to neglected maintenance, and increased costs associated with turnover when a property is vacated. Complaints Neighbor complaints regarding cleanliness issues, such as uncollected trash, odors, or visible clutter, can indicate a need for intervention. Addressing these complaints promptly with a notice demonstrates that management is responsive to concerns and committed to maintaining a harmonious living environment. Ignoring such complaints can exacerbate the problem, leading to pest infestations that can create an unhealthy living environment for residents. Lease violations Most lease agreements include clauses that outline residents' responsibilities for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. When these clauses are violated, issuing a notice is necessary to enforce the lease terms and remind residents of their obligations. Failing to act on these violations can result in significant property damage, including plumbing issues from unaddressed leaks or blockages, mold growth from damp conditions, and ultimately, costly repairs and renovations needed to restore the property for the next resident. This can also lead to increased turnover costs, as the property may need extensive cleaning and repairs before it can be re-leased. The Importance of Clear Communication Open and effective communication is vital in property management, especially when addressing cleanliness issues. A clear, well-crafted notice helps prevent minor issues from becoming major problems and sets the stage for resolution. Proactive approach Early intervention through timely communication can prevent minor cleanliness issues from escalating into significant problems. Addressing concerns as soon as they are identified shows residents that management is diligent and proactive. Setting expectations A well-crafted notice clarifies expectations for resident maintenance responsibilities. By explicitly stating what is required, renters understand their obligations and the standards of occupancy they must meet. Documentation The notice serves as a documented record of the identified issue and the steps taken to address it. This documentation is crucial for protecting the property manager's interests if further action is needed, such as additional fees or eviction proceedings. Note that property managers can proactively address cleanliness and maintenance issues by clearly setting expectations with new tenants from the outset. This can be achieved by including a detailed cleanliness clause in the lease agreement, conducting a thorough walkthrough of the rental unit at move-in, and providing a welcome packet to ensure each tenant knows their responsibilities. During the initial walkthrough, managers should highlight specific cleaning requirements and standards, demonstrating proper care for different areas of the property. Regular communication, such as periodic reminders and tips for maintaining the property, can further reinforce these expectations and prevent issues from arising, ensuring a smooth and mutually respectful resident-PM relationship. Crafting a Compelling and Effective Notice Creating an effective "Notice to Clean Property" involves several key elements that ensure clarity and encourage compliance. Introduction Begin the written notice with a clear statement of its purpose as a formal notification regarding the property's cleanliness and upkeep condition. Include the property address and the resident's name(s) to avoid any confusion. Specific observations Detail the cleanliness issues observed during the inspection or reported by others. Use clear, descriptive language to ensure there is no ambiguity about the concerns. For example, instead of saying "the property is dirty," specify "dirty dishes are piling up, attracting roaches/pests; or “an abundance of waste materials is creating a health hazard/fire hazard." This also helps differentiate the cleanliness issue from normal wear and tear. Reference to lease agreement (optional) If applicable, cite relevant clauses in the rental agreement that outline the resident’s responsibility for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. This reference reinforces the legal basis for the notice and the resident's obligations – and helps ensure that you are respecting applicable tenant rights and state laws. Outline of expectations Clearly define the expected level of cleanliness and specific actions required to rectify the situation. A timeframe for follow-up is useful for helping the resident to address the issues, such as a 7-day notice period to clean. This approach gives residents a clear understanding of what needs to be done and by when. Consequences for non-compliance (optional) Briefly outline potential consequences for failure to address the cleanliness concerns within the designated timeframe. This might include increased inspections, withholding of security deposits, or legal action, including a potential order to vacate/eviction notice. Note that although it may well become necessary to instigate an eviction process, it’s important to maintain a professional tone and avoid excessive threats to encourage cooperation. Additional Considerations for Specific Situations Different scenarios may require tailored approaches when issuing a proper notice to clean the property. Health and safety hazards If the cleanliness issue poses a potential health or safety hazard, such as mildew/mold growth, pest infestations, or overflowing sewage, prioritize immediate action. In such cases, involving relevant authorities might be necessary to ensure the issue is resolved promptly and safely. Chronic offenders For residents with a history of neglecting cleanliness standards, consider outlining a stricter course of action. This might include increased inspections or even potential lease termination if the behavior continues. Clear documentation and a consistent approach are essential when dealing with chronic offenses. Delivery Methods and Maintaining Records Ensuring that the notice is delivered and documented correctly is crucial for effective property management. Delivery methods Consider the following methods for delivering the notice: Hand-delivery with a signed receipt: This method ensures the resident receives the notice and acknowledges its receipt. Certified mail with return receipt requested: This provides documented proof that the notice was sent and received. Other methods with documented proof of delivery: Any method that provides verifiable proof of delivery is acceptable. Maintaining records Retain copies of the notice, delivery confirmation, and any relevant communication for your records. This documentation is crucial if further action is necessary and serves as evidence that the issue was addressed appropriately. Free “Notice to Tenant to Clean Property” Template Providing a template can simplify the process for property managers. However, it's essential to note that legal advice is recommended to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. ``` [Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] [Date] [Resident's Name] [Property Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] Re: Notice to Clean Property Dear [Resident's Name], This letter serves as a formal notification regarding the cleanliness condition of the property located at [Property Address]. During a recent inspection conducted on [Date], the following issues were observed: - [Detail the specific cleanliness issues] As per the lease agreement, Section [Lease Section], you are required to maintain the property in a clean and sanitary condition. To rectify the situation, please take the following actions by [Specify Deadline, e.g., 14 days from the date of this letter]: - [List the specific actions required] Failure to address these concerns within the specified timeframe may result in [potential consequences, such as additional fees, increased inspections, or eviction proceedings]. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please contact us at [Your Phone Number] if you have any questions or need further clarification. Sincerely, [Your Name] [Title] [Contact Information] ... Promoting a Culture of Responsibility Maintaining a clean and well-kept property is a shared responsibility between residents and property management. By promoting a culture of responsibility, property managers can create a positive living environment that benefits everyone involved. Encouraging residents to take pride in their living spaces and providing resources such as Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package (RBP) can foster this culture. The RBP can include regular maintenance tips, access to cleaning services, or rewards for maintaining high standards of cleanliness. Ultimately, a collaborative approach leads to what we at Second Nature call a "triple win" — residents enjoy a pleasant living environment, owners maintain their investments, and PMs have an easier role to play in maintaining these thriving, beneficial relationships. Learn more about Second Nature’s RBP.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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