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rent payment

How To Encourage Prompt Rental Payments

To manage a successful property or community, it is critical that all payments are made in a timely manner whether they are meant for rent, HOA dues, or property maintenance fees. Property managers, landlords, and HOA boards have quite the task set out before them to ensure that their tenants and unit owners make payments promptly. 

Property managers wear many hats and collecting payments is one task that many would love to hand off to someone else as it can become a loathsome chore when payments are perpetually late or forgotten. Unfortunately, it is often the job of a property manager to collect payments and manage the financial affairs of the community. 

Here are a few methods you may find useful to help encourage your unit owners or renters to make their payments on time. credit card

Make Paying Easy 

Gone are the days of using “snail mail” to physically mail a bank check for rent or HOA dues. Although many property managers do still allow this method, many have moved on to more efficient and easier ways to pay rent or fees associated with the property. 

There are currently a number of secure online rental apps that many communities are using not only for security reasons but to encourage an easy and prompt way to pay rent. These apps provide notifications when payments are due and allow for digital payment, often in a few simple clicks. 

Email Reminders 

Much of our world has become automated, so remembering a monthly payment should be easy, right? 

Well, for those tenants that need a little nudge, property managers can utilize an automated email reminder in the days leading up to the rent due date. This will be an unobtrusive way of reminding that may help some get their payment in on time. software on a laptop

Reward Promptness

While rewarding renters or unit owners who consistently pay on time may not be financially possible, this is a method that many find beneficial. These rewards, discounts, or small prizes are positive reinforcement and should be a good method to get this prompt payment behavior to be habitual. 

For those who are late with payments, the opposite side of the coin may also be a motivator. Let your tenants know that while there may be a grace period once or twice, after that there will be a late payment charge added to their bill. This may be just the encouragement some may need to get the next payment in on time. 

Use Clear Communication 

Some late payers may need to be retold the guidelines of when and how to pay. Keep good communication going between yourself and your community members. Reminders are great but you may need to touch base personally by phone, text, or in-person to set expectations and communicate your rules about payments. 

Get Legal 

While this step is always the last resort, some tenants fail to make payments at all or habitually make late payments causing the property manager financial stress on their end. In these cases, it is a wise idea to catalog all late payments and let the courts know the situation so that it can be handled in housing court. 

monopoly

What Is Renter’s Insurance & Do You Need It? 

We’ve all heard about car insurance and homeowners insurance to protect our automobile and home, but did you know that if you are leasing or renting a space to live you may want to consider another kind of insurance called renter’s insurance? 

Renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive and can provide financial security in the case of a catastrophe. Let’s take a closer look at what this insurance is, what it covers, and how many Americans utilize this as they rent or lease living space. 

What is Renter’s Insurance? 

According to leading national insurer Nationwide Insurance, renter’s insurance “protects your personal property in a rented apartment, condominium, or home from unexpected circumstances such as theft, a fire or sewer backup damage – and will pay you for lost or damaged possessions. It can also help protect you from liability if someone is injured on the property.”

Many renters mistakenly believe that a landlord’s insurance, which covers the structure of a building, will also cover their belongings and medical bills in the case of an accident such as a fire or flood. This is not true, but the renter’s insurance could make up the difference and allow the renter to replace or repair their possessions as well as cover liability in the case of injuries sustained on the property. 

How Does Renter’s Insurance Work? 

Now that you know a little more about what this type of insurance is, let’s focus on what it covers and how it works. 

Most renter’s insurance covers four main areas: loss of property, loss of use, liability, and medical expenses. In the case of a disaster causing the destruction or loss of your personal belongings, the insurance would cover the replacement of your clothing, furniture, electronics, and other belongings that were inside the property during the incident. This could be a huge financial strain if you have to buy out-of-pocket to replace all that you own including expensive technology.

In the case that your apartment or rental unit was uninhabitable, the renter’s insurance would cover the payment of hotel stays, restaurant meals, or other expenses if you have to live elsewhere while your home undergoes repairs.

As for liability, the renter’s insurance can pay out if it is determined that you are responsible for injuries to other people or damage to their property. It can also cover injuries to other people or yourself in your home, regardless of fault.landlord keys

How Many Americans Utilize Renter’s Insurance? 

According to Simply Insurance online, only “only 57% of renters in the United States had renters insurance, compared to 42% in 2018.” This relatively low number is shocking to most insurance providers since the cost of this type of insurance is relatively low, averaging just under $200 a year in 2020.

Given the relatively low cost of this insurance and the fact that over 40% of renters are not taking advantage of this option, we suggest that you talk to your insurance provider and add this little bit of peace of mind to your current automobile or other insurance. 

 

3 Ways to Cultivate a Positive Community 

Now that the new year has arrived, we can all look at things around us in both our personal and professional lives as a clean slate – tabula rasa. The magical thing about the new year is that new goals can be created and hopefully accomplished over the course of the next few months. 

If one of your goals as a property owner, property manager, or landlord is to cultivate a positive community, today’s blog is for you. 

The benefit of managing and living in a positive community is seen on both sides. For tenants, a sense of community can mean attention to needs such as community security or prioritizing maintenance. For managers, a sense of community can mean less turnover of units which can be a hassle to fill regularly. 

Let’s take a look at three ways property managers can help cultivate a positive community to the benefit of all. tools for repairs

Be Proactive 

Staying on top of maintenance concerns or property issues should be the top priority for most managers or landlords. 

To do this, many adopt the practice of maintaining impeccable repair and maintenance records. Knowing how long it’s been since a part has been replaced and what plumbers or electricians have quoted as a lifespan of a system or appliance means property managers can be proactive in scheduling much-needed repairs. 

For instance, if an HVAC professional mentions that the furnace will need to be cleaned prior to the winter, property managers can use software to remind them of the need and make sure it is scheduled before the temperatures drop in your region. 

Pro-tip – Keep communication with unit owners and residents open. They can discuss concerns and issues they may not want to bother you with until it becomes more urgent. However, those conversations can be keys to understanding the health of the community. 

Use Technology 

As mentioned above, technology can be a property manager’s best friend. The newest software allows residents to pay rent online, request repairs via an online portal, and communicate with managers about issues that have arisen. 

Pro-tip – Keep multiple forms of technology open. For instance, not all of your tenants will be computer savvy. They may need more traditional forms of communication to express their concerns. 

Prioritize Communication

Property managers need to be good communicators. After all, they will be dealing with people from all different walks of life and it will be necessary to juggle many needs all at once. 

To keep lines of communication open, you should have multiple methods which can be used to contact you such as your community’s portal, email, texting, calling, and good old snail mail. Be sure to put parameters on when customers can reach out or for what reasons it is appropriate to call or text outside of that time. Obviously, emergencies take priority on calls and texts but have regular hours daily that your community members can reach out to you. 

Pro-tip – Send out a digital newsletter that lets everyone know announcements such as the anticipated arrival of a big snowstorm and when cars will need to be moved for plowing in your parking lot. 

snow plow

Winter Worries for Property Managers 

Winter in New England comes with some definite perks including snow-capped mountain scenery, options to ski, and idyllic imagery of cities and towns dusted by snow. Unfortunately, with this winter beauty comes winter worries for property managers. From concerns about ice dams and slippery sideways to frozen pipes and leaks on the roof, the work of a property manager may never seem like it is done. 

Let’s take a look at some of the top winter worries for property managers so that concerns can be proactively dealt with rather than as they occur at your property. sidewalk plowing

Schedule Snow Clearing Contractors Early 

Living in this corner of the world there is no question about whether there will be snow every winter, it’s just a matter of when the snow will happen rather than “if.” 

Knowing this, it’s smart to schedule out contractors that will plow your driveways, shovel your walkways and use de-icing components on those well in advance of the first snowfall. If you use the same contractor each year, it may be necessary to review your contract and ensure that your property is top on the priority list as a loyal customer. 

Pro Tip – When interviewing contractors find out how early they can be at your property after a snowfall and if they will come back for a clean-up later in the day. This is especially important to residents who need the area plowed early to get out to work and will expect that their parking spot will be cleared upon their return. 

Take Steps to Prevent Fires 

The start of winter also marks the start of the fireplace and wood-burning stove season as well. Additionally, it signifies a time of year when candles are burned and holiday decor may be overloading outlets. All of these are potential fire hazards in the making. 

As a property manager, it’s a good idea to remind your residents about proper fireplace use and wood stove use. Add in recommendations about the amount of lighting for decor per outlet and common sense reminders about candle use during this season. 

Pro Tip – Require that homeowners or residents have a professional chimney cleaning every year to avoid creosote build-up in the venting of their wood stove or fireplace. Additionally, have all residents check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. icicles

Be Vigilant of Winter Risks 

Winter may be a welcome season for some, but property managers know that things like ice dams on roofs, frozen pipes, and malfunctioning furnaces can be real issues during the cold winter months. 

Take steps early in the season to have the furnace tuned or inspected for potential issues. A roof inspection and attic inspection of insulation can help prevent ice dams, and keeping thermostats at a constant temp can help avoid frozen pipes. A little vigilance can go a long way to lessen these winter risks. 

Pro Tip – Remind residents that during the coldest nights keep cabinets open to allow kitchen pipes to absorb heat and, if necessary, allow faucets to drip water so that freezing does not occur. 

Does your property have winter issues to stay on top of? Let our team at Thayer & Associates help out. Talk to our team today. 

 

condo grounds

5 Ways to Boost Your Community Curb Appeal 

Living in a community is desirable for many reasons, the top of which could be the freedom from yardwork or year-round maintenance issues. Many people want to avoid the tedious chore of mowing the lawn during the spring and summer or shoveling heavy New England snow throughout the long winter. The draw of many communities, whether it is a Homeowners Association or an apartment community, is this idea of regular exterior maintenance completed by someone else. 

With property maintenance crews taking care of issues throughout the year, you may wonder what projects could help boost curb appeal and make your community look just a little more attractive than other neighboring communities. 

Here are five improvements to consider that will raise the curb appeal of your community. condo

#1 Cosmetic Upgrades 

This may sound expensive and time-consuming but adding a few simple changes to your community can really make a difference especially if you are hoping for uniformity and a clean look. 

Consider upgrading all door numbers to the same style and font. For instance, copper or brass house numbers that match the lighting fixtures can be beautiful. 

Other cosmetic upgrades could include solar lights along walkways, detailed hardscapes, stone planters, or front walkway decor. These upgrades not only make the community look nicer but can show prospective renters or unit owners that the community is well cared for. 

#2 Power Washing the Exterior 

Although this upgrade may seem like a no-brainer, many communities do not take advantage of the major transformation a power washing can do for walkways, patios, pool areas, and the exterior surfaces of all buildings. 

Power washing can remove dirt, debris, gunk, grime, and mold that has begun to form on surfaces. This chore may seem like a simple one but it can bring back the luster of stone patios, wood decks, and the siding of the buildings in your community.paint samples

#3 Fresh Paint 

If power washing can clean a community, painting can put a brand new look on an entire community. A fresh coat of exterior paint can seriously transform the overall look of a building or many buildings from dull and boring to fresh and new. 

#4 New Lighting 

Many communities have streetlights that illuminate the driveways and parking areas associated with the buildings. By adding custom lighting for walkways, entrances, and parking lots, the community will not only appear nicer and more welcoming but can also help make the area more secure. 

#5 New Roof 

When a roof is peeling, curling, or looking like it may have leaks, the community can begin to look worn down and not well cared for. A new roof can be one of those master repairs that will make the building look new and will prevent any ice dams, leaking, or repair issues that may have been revealed over the last few years. 

Looking to take your community up a level in its curb appeal? Try one or all of these improvements to boost your curb appeal this year. 

 

rent payment

Handling Late Rent or HOA Dues Payments

One of the most common sources of anxiety for property managers, landlords, or members of the board of homeowners associations is handling late payments, whether rent, dues or monthly fees. While not an enjoyable part of the job, it is seemingly inevitable that someone will be late at some point during your tenure as a property manager. Knowing how to deal with this somewhat sticky situation is a critical part of the myriad of tasks for managers. 

Capital improvements such as electrical upgrades, installation of new roofs, and plumbing upgrades are just the start of what rent and dues cover for unit owners. Other services such as trash pick up, driveway and parking lot care throughout the four seasons, landscaping, and facility maintenance are among the long list of things that are taken care of from the funds. 

If rent or dues (in an HOA) are not paid regularly and on time, these services may be significantly impacted. The lack of prompt payment can, in turn, negatively impact the successful management of the entire community. In a worst-case scenario, repairs may not be able to be made or financial bankruptcy may be considered. 

Thankfully, most renters or unit owners pay their obligations on time and in full. Here are some tips on handling situations where late payments are occurring. 

Create an Established Course of Action 

When homeowners (in an HOA) or renters in an apartment sign a lease or buy a condo in your community, have a written agreement that each party signs clearly spelling out the consequences of not paying on time. 

Initially, when a late payment is noticed a friendly reminder email or phone call to remit payment can be made by the landlord or HOSA board. If this course of action does not remedy the issue a demand notice may be sent. This statement will explain what is due and that fees will accumulate as each day passes. 

Depending upon the circumstances and whether this is the first time this has happened, a property manager may waive late fees or work out some sort of payment plan. 

If all else fails, services may be limited for this unit or a lien may be filed in court against the property dwellers. 

Avoiding Court 

Most HOAs and landlords would like to spare the expenses of going to court. Therefore processes should be put into place within communities to catch late payments immediately and work out remedies that help the community continue on as well as the unit owner pay their obligations in a timely manner. 

Some communities use automated payment systems, reminder notices that are generated automatically prior to each month’s payment date, and options if hardships exist. 

For more information on setting up payment plans and how software can help your property with payments check out our website and property services

 

Holiday decor

Decor & Exterior Decorations In An HOA Community 

As we head into the last months of the year, it’s a good time to review your property’s rules about decor and decorations in regard to the major holidays that are right on the horizon. While you may be tempted to pull out your decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Kwanza, you may want to check out your community’s bylaws and rules about decorating for this time of year. 

For many communities that rely on a uniform look yet want to allow some level of personalization, creating decor rules is truly a balancing act. What constitutes “too many lights?” Who decides what looks tacky and what is respectful and permissible? How long should decorations remain outside? 

These are all great questions. Here are a few ideas on how to balance allowing decor for the holidays and maintaining the clean look many communities strive for. 

Create a Timeline 

Some homeowners love to get their Christmas decorations out immediately after Thanksgiving while others prefer to leave them up until well after the New Year. Create a timeline that guides your tenants on the allowable days or weeks that decorations can be placed. 

Not all communities have the same guidelines, but a great guide to follow could be donning exterior decorations no more than 30 days before the holiday and taking down exterior decorations no later than two weeks after the holiday. This gives all homeowners a chance to enjoy the decor without having it outlive its welcome. 

Safety Reminders 

As property managers, safety should always be first and foremost. Remind renters and those who live in your community to only use lights that are electrically safe, place decor in a safe location where it will not be a tripping factor, and request help if the decor is placed in difficult areas. 

Communities often have specific rules about not attaching decor to structures, roofs, or overhangs that could create a safety hazard. Make sure that your decorations are not contributing to a fire hazard. For instance, do you have too many cords in one outlet or are the cords placed too close to a heating element? 

Be Mindful of Neighbors 

We want to leave you with one last thought about decor and holiday decorations. Remember that you have community neighbors. Think about them as you choose and place your decorations. Avoid items that are loud, have excessive lights, and politically or religiously offensive signage or decorations. Everyone would like to enjoy the holidays and if your decor is infringing on them, insulting, or too bright, you may want to rethink your display. 

 

man in walkway in the winter

Seasonal Maintenance Tips for Property Managers

Fall may seem like the time of year that the world slows down and enjoys the spectacular show that the leaves put on, seemingly for our pure enjoyment. If you are a property manager or landlord, however, you know that this fleeting time is a busy one, prepping for the winter months and making sure that your property is in good condition to make it through another potentially harsh New England winter. 

For property upkeep to be successful maintenance should occur throughout the year but there are some specific tasks that experience tells us need to be completed every fall. Read on for our maintenance tips that can keep your property well maintained throughout the year. 

squirril

Roof & Gutters 

Let’s start our maintenance tips at the top with the regular fall checks on the roof and gutters of your property. 

Fall is a good time (before temps and precipitation may make it difficult to inspect the area) to clean out gutters that are clogged with leaves, debris, and wildlife nests. A good clean-out will mean your gutters will be able to continue to function properly and move water away from your structure and foundation. 

While you’re up there, check the roof for any signs of damage such as peeling shingles, weak spots, or a chimney cap that may have become dislodged due to wind or storms. Accessing this area when there is ice or snow will be impossible, so this may be your last chance to inspect and repair. 

Trees, Leaves, & Landscaping Needs 

Fall is notorious for requiring some heavy-duty cleanup, especially in the time between when the last leaves and the first flakes fall. It may seem like a race against time but getting those leaves up before Mother Nature dumps a few feet of snow on them is important not just now but when it all melts in the spring. 

Our tip is to think about this task as three main areas: cleaning up the leaves, trimming back trees and bushes that need it, and repairing any areas of your landscape that require attention before all outdoor tasks are not accessible. 

Windows & Doors 

Winter in our region can bring some amazingly low temperatures. Therefore insulation including caulking around windows and doors should be checked annually to ensure that HVAC systems are not stressed or allowing heated air to escape. 

Fresh window calk and door sweeps can be a lifesaver for your utility bill and lessen the need to keep turning up the thermostat. 

Prep For Snow 

If part of your duties as a property manager includes snow plowing and shoveling your communities, be sure that you have the right equipment and that it has been thoroughly checked before the first flakes fly. 

It’s also a good idea to remind your tenants or renters of the policy for moving cars and parking lot rules for when the weather turns slippery. 

 

phone apps

Keeping Your Renters “In The Loop” 

Communication between property managers or landlords and renters is a critical piece of the puzzle for harmonious living in an apartment community or homeowner’s association. Communication, including how it occurs, when it occurs, and how informative it is, can mean the difference between a rocky relationship and a productive one. 

Whether you are a traditionalist and like to use “snail mail” as your form of communication or you have made the leap to the digital world, your communication should be timely, regular, and filled with useful information. lease paperwork

When To Communicate

It’s important to communicate effectively with renters, tenants, or members of your HOA, but it’s also important to know when communication needs to occur. Here are a few examples of when you should be sending out text messages, emails, or posting bulletins. 

  • The dates and time of capital improvements. This could be roofing, paving, landscaping, HVAC updates, or a host of other major renovations. 
  • Interruptions or changes in service. This could include regular landscaping tasks being discontinued or changed to a different day. 
  • Information regarding financial changes to contracts. 
  • Updates to building or community rules.
  • Local news or events impacting the community. 
  • Reminders for safety. 
  • Updates or reminders for snow plowing if applicable. 

phone apps

Forms of Communication

When to choose to communicate is one thing, but how you do it is another thing. A good rule is that property managers should use multiple forms of communication in case some renters have an affinity for one form over another. Older renters may not want to text or use an app while younger renters may find email or regular newsletter bog them down. 

Here are some options for the methods of communication. 

  • Software apps can make communication instantaneous and easy with a smartphone.
  • Email may be a good choice for more formal newsletters and reminders of things like repairs or maintenance work. 
  • An updated website with rules, regulations, and a calendar of events/repairs. This is a good way to remind your community when mowing day is or when the amenities (like the pool or clubhouse) will be closed for cleaning. 
  • A dedicated phone line that is staffed with employees who can field questions, comments, or concerns. This may be a cost-effective way of weeding out issues that are small and can be answered quickly. 
  • A bulletin board in a common space can be a great place to post news, reminders, and upbeat items. This is not a place to post repairs or individual renters issues. 

Having multiple communication channels is a way to ensure that everyone living in your community or building has a method that they are most comfortable using. Communication is the key to having happy (loyal) renters. For more information about our communication visit our website