Running an apartment community is no easy task. The size of your multifamily portfolio will dictate apartment operations policies and how many employees and contractors are needed to do the job. It takes a full team including the property manager, leasing staff, and maintenance crew who must all work in harmony to keep your tenants happy and your property in great condition.
One item all apartment communities have in common are the challenges that management encounters during day-to-day apartment operations. Here are the top “topics” that plague property owners and managers, along with easy tips and solutions to tackling those problems.
Instances of community and neighborhood crime can drive away prospective renters. As more and more prospective residents scan online reviews, they are making decisions about the safety of a property before their first visit. How many leases are lost due to crime?
It’s a fantastic idea for you, or your manager, to search online reviews for your property on a regular basis. Often, you can correct online reviews that might be plaguing your community.
There are many different types of crime that can occur on your property. Here are some to watch out for:
- Car break-ins
- Domestic violence
- Property damage
- Apartment break-ins
Start by getting a local police department premise report on your property. A premise history will help you decide which steps to take to rectify criminal activity. For instance, if your property has a high amount of car break-ins, adding additional lighting in dark areas might deter burglars.
Property owners and managers must act quickly and judicially when residents lodge complaints. You cannot willingly pick sides. Your standard response to resident complaints must be clearly covered in your apartment operations policies. And you must consistently adhere to those guidelines.
Complaints cause inefficiencies, interrupt the daily flow of work in the leasing office, and can cause morale to drop. Residents most commonly complain about:
- Rent increases
- Security deposit refunds
A good solution is to add tenant exit surveys to your apartment operations policies. Exiting residents are quick to point out any complaints they may have. A tenant exit survey will show you how you can improve on the experience for your remaining tenants. If response rates are low, offer some sort of giveaway.
A revolving door of staff
A property manager certainly has a multitude of duties overseeing apartment operations. Bringing in income, interacting with staff, and making sure that everything is in place so residents’ expectations are satisfied, are just a few of the tasks at hand.
Turnover among leasing staff and maintenance technicians are also a potential problem. According to a survey by the National Multi Housing Council, turnover rate among leasing staff was 55%. The same survey pegs the turnover of maintenance technicians at slightly over 43%. There is a cost to constantly retraining staff.
Read this for some great ideas on how to reduce employee turnover.
As apartments age and wear down through the normal wear and tear residents place upon them, repairs are seemingly never ending.
Maintenance covers a wide range of topics. Repairs will vary depending on which part of the country your community is located. For example, according to Terminex, the southeast region of the United States is most susceptible to termite infestation. Apartment owners should hire a company that tests and treats accordingly if applicable.
Newer apartment complexes are outfitted with more technology and social spaces with media rooms and computers. Of course, this requires more staff training and potential repairs. Some of the areas where you can expect repairs are:
- Heating and air conditioning systems
- Plumbing (clogs, leaks, etc)
- Computers and other building-wide technologies (WiFi, smart locks, security systems, etc.)
- Fitness centers
Make sure you, your staff and property managers are properly trained. Your apartment operations policies should include a preventative maintenance plan. Managers may also want to consider earning their Cam credentials.
Not necessarily a product of apartment operations, but equally important, is location. Less fortunate or economically disadvantaged parts of town will generate some of the lowest prices per square foot. Apartment buildings have a long shelf life. It’s common for certain areas to be gentrified while others are left to fend for themselves. If you are in the former group, you’ll be able to reap huge profits in such cases.
However, your property may see falling rents if it’s located in a declining area. You often have tough choices to make that might include selling or potentially remodeling your property. Also, properties that are located in poor neighborhoods may be subject to a higher crime rate.
Would you like to learn how to create apartment operations policies and procedures for your property? Get in touch with us through our contact page. We can help coach you through the process.
Andrew Reichek is a real estate broker at Rentkidz.com. His team of locators help renters find apartments in Texas.