When you own an apartment complex, management is key. You want to be sure that you’re effectively managing your apartment complex, whether you self-manage or prefer to hire third-party managers for your apartment complex. 

Leading your team is key. Appropriate apartment management can help you avoid financial and legal disasters–and these ten brilliant tips will help keep you out of trouble. 

1. Pay attention to life safety


Keep up with your inspections, and make sure that you’re in compliance with local guidelines. You want to be sure that your apartment complex is as safe as possible for all of its residents, whether you have college students, families with small children, or predominantly seniors living in the complex. 

Life safety standards include appropriate, clearly-labeled fire doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, exit signs, emergency lighting, and a wide range of other elements that help keep your residents safe. Never skimp on safety–and check yourself to be sure that you’re taking care of regular inspections. 

2. Include clear tenant policies in your apartment management plan


Managing tenants requires clear policies and standards. You want procedures and policies in place that are clear, easy to understand, and readily available to everyone. Make sure you know the rules and regulations governing your apartment complex, from rules about pets to rules about noise after a certain hour.

Your apartment management policies should answer the following questions.

  • What are the rules and regulations guiding the use of complex common areas and amenities?
  • How do tenants communicate with staff members? 
  • Is it easy for tenants to get in touch with the right individuals, or do they often struggle to make connections? 
  • How are disputes managed with tenants or between tenants and other members of the community?

You should also have clear tenant screening and leasing practices in place. How will you screen tenants? How will you decide who to lease to? The clearer these protocols are, the greater the likelihood that you will fill your building with stable and long-term residents.

3. Review legal policies regularly


Your apartment complex should always be on the sunny side of the law–and you want to be sure that you aren’t missing any important elements. Good apartment management requires working knowledge of issues like how to handle evictions, fair housing compliance, and how to handle accessibility throughout your complex. 

By reviewing your local landlord-tenant laws, you can be sure that you won’t miss any important legal details that could come back to bite you later. 

4. Take a look at your leasing and marketing strategies


How do you handle keeping your apartments rented out? Whether you work with a third-party apartment manager or you handle this task yourself, as a complex owner, you will become a marketer. It’s crucial that you pay attention to marketing information, including how to best reach the target market for your complex. Develop a solid marketing strategy that will keep the majority of your units rented. 

5. Set a budget every year


Every year, take the time to sit down and review your annual budget. Look at expense management: where were your biggest expenses last year? What expenses do you anticipate in the coming year? 

Evaluate your revenue projections for the coming year. Set out any major capital expenditure plans and take a look at your cash reserves. The better you understand your finances, the easier it is to make savvy financial decisions. 

6. Take care of financial reporting


All too often, apartment management falls into trouble when it comes to financial reporting. Not only do you need that information for your personal records, you will need to report it come tax time. Make sure you keep up with the books. Regularly conduct banking and budget reviews. 

Putting effort into financial reporting now will make things far easier on you when you file your taxes each year or when you look for a loan for a future property purchase. 

7. Take care of preventative maintenance


Just like any building, your apartment requires preventative maintenance in order to look its best–and in order to stay safe for your tenants. Pay attention to common areas as well as your units. Take a look at wear and tear over time and make sure you have projections for that maintenance. 

Some types of maintenance, including taking care of HVAC units and fireplaces, may need to be taken care of seasonally to maximize your investment. Plan out your seasonal apartment management early in the year so that you aren’t surprised when it’s needed.

8. Stay on top of market research


Get to know your local area. What are other local apartments renting for? What amenities are other apartment buildings offering? Pay attention to the local economy as well as to local trends and market cycles. Keep up with your competition in terms of what rent and amenities you offer. When possible, increase your rents to help you improve your community. 

9. Prioritize major building systems inspections


Every year, you need to take care of regular building systems inspections. This includes:

  • The roof
  • Windows
  • HVAC maintenance
  • The boiler
  • Electricity
  • Plumbing
  • Life safety and security systems
  • Lighting
  • Landscaping
  • Garage/parking
  • Stairs and Balconies

Inspect these items on a regular basis to ensure that there are no safety hazards or ongoing problems. By identifying those problems and taking any preventative measures early, you can decrease the odds that you’ll face more expensive repairs down the road. 

10. Choose the right staff members


As an apartment complex owner, you also become the boss. Create clear hiring processes. Know what you’re looking for in team members and set a policy in place for training. You’ll need leasing agents, on-site managers, and maintenance, cleaning, and construction crews throughout your time as a complex owner, and you want to make sure that you choose the right apartment management team for your property.

Are you ready to dive in and start investing? Do you already have properties that you manage successfully on a regular basis? Check out our free operations checklist, your guide to owning and operating an apartment building. Whether you’re just starting out or you already have a successful investment portfolio, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Learn more:


How to Reduce Risk When Investing in Multifamily Real Estate

Lead Your Multifamily Property Manager – Starting the Day You Close

Early Warning Signs Your Property Manager Has Lost Control


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Theresa Bradley-Banta writes about investing in real estate while avoiding the pitfalls that plague many new investors. She is a 2017 PropTech Top 100 Influencer and winner of 14 American and International real estate awards for her website and real estate investing programs. As featured on: The Equifax Finance Blog, AOL’s Daily Finance, Scotsman Guide, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, Stevie Awards Blog, Rental Housing Journal, and Investors Beat among others.

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