Tips for Increasing Security in Your Properties

bigstock-Four-hands-as-a-protecting-roo-40533868As a property manager, it is important to keep your property safe. Residents need to feel secure when they are at home and managing an unsafe property can open the door to liabilities. While you can’t be expected to install state-of-the-art security systems in every unit, there are a few things you can do to increase security on your property.

Have an Organized Watch System

Organize a property watch system with current tenants. It can be strictly voluntary, but have tenants get together with your on-site property manager or landlord to report issues, monitor activity and keep everyone safe.

Hire Professional Inspectors

Safety doesn’t just mean protecting people from burglary, it also means protecting against fire, flood and mold. Hire professional inspectors to review your property on an annual basis. Have all smoke alarms tested, walls inspected for signs of mold or mildew and make sure your property is up to code. Also instill rules regarding barbecues, especially open flames and consider having a fire extinguisher installed in every unit.

Change Locks Between Tenants

Changing the locks after an old tenant has vacated the unit can help reduce any burglary or unauthorized access in the future. When a new resident moves in, you can give them added peace of mind in knowing that the locks are brand new on their unit. If a tenant loses his or her key, have the unit’s locks changed and if a break in does occur in a community area (such as the fitness center or club house) have those locks changed immediately.

Screen New Tenants

If you don’t screen prospective tenants carefully, you could be opening the door to liability issues. Always screen prospective tenants for past criminal activity as well as credit history. You can list the criteria in your lease agreement to give residents a little peace of mind. Some rejection criteria could include sexual assault, drug-related crimes, arson or malicious crimes.

Handle Safety-Related Repairs Quickly

There’s no need to spend all of your reserve on repairs and upgrades, but you do need to set aside funds in your budget for handling safety-related repairs. This could include repairing broken gates, fixing stairwells and railings, replacing bulbs in the parking lot area or updating security cameras.

The safer tenants feel in your community, the more likely they are to renew their lease. If your property is located in a high-crime area, you need to take extra precautions to keep your tenants safe. This might include installing and using security cameras, hiring an on-site security service, etc. The more steps you take to make tenants feel safe while at home, the better it is for your resident retention and liability.

31
Jan 2014
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What Renters Are Really Looking for in Apartments

bigstock-Young-couple-moving-in-new-pla-17001401If you want people to live in your units, you need to offer them what they’re looking for. While the wants and needs of one can be different from another, there are some things that all renters are looking for out of a new apartment. The closer to these wants your property is, the more likely you can fill your vacancies fast.

Responsive Management Staff

Most renters leave apartments because their management staff is too relaxed. When a staff doesn’t seem to take their duties seriously, the renters suffer. Renters want to rest assured that if they have an issue with their apartment (whether it is an emergency or not) they will have a management team that responds accordingly. Also, renters want polite, friendly management staff members. When repairs are needed, they should be done in a timely manner. After all, that is the benefit of renting — a renter shouldn’t have to do repairs themselves.

Safe Living

If your apartment community isn’t safe, you aren’t going to attract new renters. People want to feel safe where they live. To prove your community is a safe choice, highlight safety features, such as:

  • Well-lit parking lots
  • Gated community
  • Background checks on staff, maintenance crew and neighbors
  • New locks
  • Security systems

Family-Friendly Apartments

While single people are the predominant renters, there are still families that choose to rent an apartment versus a house. Renters want to feel like they’re in a friendly community. If they have a family pet, they are going to look for an apartment that is pet-friendly. So, make sure to list whether or not you accept pets. Renters who have children want to know that there are things for their children, such as a playground, other kids in the community, a pool, etc. List these amenities on your description to help increase the family-friendly environment.

If you’re close to schools, list those schools — including private schools. If you have on-site daycare or are close to a reputable daycare center, mention that in your listing or amenities for parents with younger children.

Convenient Living

Renters are looking for apartments that make their life easier. Some amenities that do that include being close to shopping centers (especially grocery stores), having public transit nearby and being located in a safe neighborhood. Some renters worry about how close they are to hospitals, universities and public schools, so you should list the distances accordingly.

While you can’t change everything about your apartment, there are some things you can do to make your apartment more desirable to possible renters. From listing the amenities to being more responsive to tenant needs, you’re going to increase your positive ratings and appeal for new tenants.

You can’t make every renter happy, but if you notice you’re not retaining current residents and vacancies are sitting empty for an extended period of time, it might be a good time to change how you appeal to potential renters.

29
Jan 2014
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Effective Marketing Tips: How to Keep Your Property Ads Up to Date

bigstock-Couple-4843660Advertising your property on a site is effective, but only if you keep your property advertisements up to date. You can’t just post and ad and forget about it. You need to have your information current so that prospective renters know what to expect from your property in terms of condition, rent, availability, etc. While you don’t need to update weekly, there are certain things that you need to update every time there is a change.

Rent

Rent is one of the biggest reasons people look at a prospective property. If your rental amounts are out of date, you’re wasting prospective renters’ time and your own. Take a look at your rates and make sure you’re competitive with similar property types in the area. Any time rent goes up, change it on your property listing accordingly. You can list ranges — especially if you charge more for upper floor units — but keep the prices accurate.

Tours, Photos and Online Videos

Photos need to represent your property. If your photos were from one or two years ago or before a remodel, update them. To capture the attention of more renters, consider loading a 365-degree view or video tour.

Spend a little extra money and take detailed photos of the interior. Hire a professional so that you can really capture what your property is like. Get photos of every room in the unit, including storage areas, amenities and parking. The more detailed your photos are the more likely a prospective renter is to consider your property. Having just a photo of the exterior won’t entice prospects to visit your property, especially with competitor properties offering more detail.

Offers and Incentives

Special offers or incentives can attract prospective renters. Update your listing any time you have a promotion and set an expiration date. This creates a sense of urgency that could turn a prospective renter into an applicant. Also, incentives can keep you competitive with other properties in the area, especially if your rental rates are higher or your amenities aren’t as robust as competing properties.

Listing Amenities

Amenities are features that make your unit easier to live in. You should list everything from a dishwasher to air conditioning to covered parking. If it is something that makes your tenant’s life easier, it should be on your amenities list. Also, community amenities such as a pool, fax machine, office area with free Wi-Fi, etc. should be listed.

Review your listings every month and see if everything is up to date. Once a unit is taken, remove the advertisement immediately. If you have multiple units make sure the rent accurately depicts the units available. The more details that are up-to-date, the more likely you can attract prospective renters. See what your competitors are listing and keep your advertisements similar. This might require a little extra time each moth researching, but that time will pay off in the end when you’re able to fill vacancies quickly.

27
Jan 2014
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Things to Consider Before You Sign the Lease

sign lease imageChoosing a new place to live is a daunting task. From looking through endless advertisements to visiting properties and meeting with managers, you have a lot on your plate. When people are overwhelmed it is easy to make haste decisions. But, before you commit to a particular lease there are a few questions you should ask to make sure it is a sound decision.

Keep Track of Where You Go

When you visit multiple apartments it can be difficult to keep track of what you saw and where you saw it. Simplify keeping track by bringing along a notebook. Write down the address of the property, the date and time you visited, who you met with and what you saw. Write down a few details that will help you decide what apartment is right for you when you sit down to compare. These can include:

What is the rent?
How close is the new place to school and/or work?
What are the lease terms?
Is it close to other amenities such as a gym, grocery store or local attractions?
How is the parking situation?
What is the neighborhood like?
Settling In

You will want to ask each property manager how much you can do to your apartment to make it more like home. Are you allowed to paint? What are the restrictions when it comes to hanging stuff on the wall? Finally, ask what you have to do to prepare the apartment for a move out.

Long-Term Commitment Considerations

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. If you are locked into a long-term lease and you get a new job, what will happen with your lease? Find out what options the property manager has, such as one-year, six month or month-to-month lease terms. Find out how much notice you have to give and what your options are if you have to move before your lease is up.

If you plan on having a roommate, find out if your roommate needs to be on the lease. If so, you will want a roommate you can tolerate, because if the relationship goes sour, it might be difficult to remove just one roommate from the lease in the middle of the lease term.

Questions to Ask Property Management

You need all of the details before you sign the lease. These details should be in your lease and include:

  • What day of the month rent is due and what day late fees are assessed.
  • What the security deposit is and how much you get back when you leave.
  • What the penalty fee is for breaking the lease early.
  • What utilities you are responsible for on top of your rent.

Picking a new apartment should be exciting. If you feel overwhelmed, slow down and take a break. There is nothing worse than getting locked into a lease on an apartment you don’t like. So, before you sign the lease, make sure it is the apartment you want to commit to.

24
Jan 2014
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Ways to Go Green While Living in an Apartment

bigstock-Idea-Of-Beeing-A-Happy-House-O-7140006People often think they need to own a home to go green, but green living can be done any time and no matter where you live. Green living not only helps save the environment, but can help you save on your utility bills in your apartment. While some of these green items might be left up to your property manager, others you can do during your lease and remove when you move.

Start Using Reusable Water Bottles

Plastic water bottles that you drink out of and dispose of every time is wasteful. Even with recycling these water bottles add up over time. Instead of using disposable water bottles buy reusable plastic water bottles. These often range from $4 to $8 and have double-wall insulation to keep your drinks cool.

The same goes for your morning coffee. Ditch the paper cups given to you by your barista and bring your own insulated mug. Coffee shops are more than happy to fill a travel mug with your favorite coffee beverage.

Opt Out

Junk mail is something no one wants or needs, but it is still received and thrown in the garbage. Opt out of junk mail by registering your address online. This will reduce the amount of mail you have to go through every day and the amount of waste generated by spammers.

Plant Your Own Container Garden

Ask your property manager if it is alright to have a garden hanging off your balcony. Some apartments have strict rules about what you can hang on a balcony railing. If it is approved, grow your own vegetables and herbs using a balcony container gardening method. It’s easy to maintain and saves you money, because you’re not having to buy produce at the store — and you’re in control of what is on your vegetables.

Use Smart Power Strips

Smart power strips allow you to plug multiple items into them at once. When the items aren’t in use, such as when you go to bed, turn off the entire strip to conserve energy and save on your own utility bills.

Water Saving Shower Heads

A lot of apartment complexes are making the switch to water conserving shower heads already, but if yours hasn’t caught on, ask your property manager if it is alright to switch yours out. They use less water, but still provide you with a good shower experience. In most cases you won’t even notice the difference.

Switch Cleaning Products

There are non-toxic all natural cleaning products out there that don’t contain harsh chemicals. They’re safer for the environment and yourself. If you suffer from allergies or have sensitive skin, these natural cleaners could reduce the number of issues you have each year. Most non-toxic cleaners can be made at home too using ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and dish soap. If you don’t want to make your own, buy organic non-toxic cleaners at the store. They clean just as well and are safe to use on most materials — unlike traditional cleaners.

22
Jan 2014
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