Apartment property management has its own set of challenges for property managers and landlords. Unlike managing independent dwellings, general maintenance of apartment blocks is the responsibility of the Strata Manager, who is also responsible for addressing the concerns of residents and resolving disputes within the building.
However, there are certain aspects property managers and landlords should consider to ensure the apartment is well-maintained and tenants are properly managed.
Timely Response to Requests for Repairs and Maintenance
Although emergencies such as flooding in the bathroom are addressed straightaway, tenants require other repair or maintenance work to be carried out, such as fixing a cracked window or a faulty electrical switch in the spare bedroom.
To keep tenants happy, it’s important to respond quickly to requests for repair and maintenance work or they could quickly pile up and difficult to manage.
The faster repairs are carried out, the less it will cost to fix it. For instance, dampness in walls could affect the structure of the building and cost a lot of money if it is left untreated for long. It will also make tenants unhappy, causing them to move out.
Cash flow can be severely affected, not just from the loss of rental income, but also because of costly repairs and advertising for new tenants once the apartment is fit enough to be rented.
Be Diligent With Documentation
Managing multiple apartments can be challenging and there are days when complaints from tenants pile up and can easily be forgotten.
Ensure everything is documented, whether it’s a complaint about a noisy neighbour or an illegally parked car in the visitor’s parking space. Memories aren’t always accurate, and it can be embarrassing to reach out to a tenant after a few hours of speaking to them, asking what exactly their problem was.
In the unlikely event you get involved in a court case, if you documented what’s being disputed accurately along with the day and the time an incident occurred, your argument will be taken a lot more seriously than if you were relying on just your memory. Document everything even if you think it’s irrelevant at the time, and file a hard copy so you can access the information quickly if you need it.
Ensure Rules are Followed
Apartment rental management can be quite daunting and property managers have to address a multitude of day to day challenges. The role can be emotionally and physically draining if proper rules and procedures are not followed.
Make sure tenants, contractors, tradespersons and other facilitating agents are aware of business hours, so they don’t get into the habit of calling just when you’re locking up for the day.
If tenants know if the rent is due on the fifth of the month and they make the payment a week later, charge them a late fee. If you’re slack about the rules, others will notice and continually push your buttons, which can dampen your enthusiasm and affect job performance.
Maintain a Professional Attitude
When you’ve just finished conducting a routine inspection on a tenanted property and just as you’re about to leave the tenant begins to tell you about a concern that needs to be looked into, it’s easy to express exasperation and be rude.
A moment of rudeness can lead to an upset tenant complaining to the management about your attitude, which could result in your apartment rental management agency losing business or the tenant leaving.
Always maintain a polite and professional attitude. If you’re in a rush for another appointment and are interrupted by a tenant, let them know you cannot speak to them right away and set a time to call them and address their concern.
Explain the Lease to Tenants
When signing a lease with a tenant, go over the important clauses so there’s no misunderstanding. If you have experienced a situation with a previous tenant, which led to a dispute, make sure this is explained clearly, so it is never repeated again.
Make your apartment rental management job easier from the start by explaining the rules and let tenants know what’s expected of them. For instance, if your instinct tells you that your tenant is likely to be noisy and residents of the apartment block are quiet and let them know that blaring music late at night will not be tolerated by neighbours, and could result in an eviction notice if they are found to be repeat offenders.
Apartment property management professionals sometimes receive requests from tenants to carry our repairs, without being given the complete details of the problem on hand. It’s important to explain to tenants that you can’t fix something if you don’t know exactly what’s wrong.
Encourage tenants to communicate and make sure you’re documenting everything that has been said and also keep track of the date of your conversations with tenants. After the call, use a spreadsheet to record the details, so it’s easy to follow up on the action which needs to be taken.
There’s no escaping wear and tear in a property and whether it is peeling paint or an electric stove which is on its last legs, ensuring the apartment is in prime shape is important to keep tenants happy.
Preventive maintenance also keeps ongoing maintenance costs low as putting off maintenance tasks which aren’t urgent can lead to a major problem in the future, which could be expensive to repair.
For instance, as part of the preventive maintenance activities, it may be a practice to replace filters of air-conditioning units in an apartment every quarter. Failure to do so will result in the air-conditioning system working harder than it needs to until it breaks. The repair cost will be a lot more than the cost of replacing air filters in a timely manner.
The Technology Advantage
Traditional models of apartment property management, have given way to smarter ways of managing apartments using online technology.
These platforms provide a greater level of transparency and make it easier for property managers to manage multiple properties even if they are located outside the local area.
Property managers who make use of these technologies will have an advantage over competitors who are slow to adopt newer technology-driven business models.
To manage the expectations of tenants and landlords, property managers need to demonstrate a high level of professionalism and following this checklist can be immensely helpful.