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John Scarpaci of Thayer & Associates Awarded Community Associations Manager of the Year

John Scarpaci of Thayer & Associates Awarded Community Associations Manager of the Year

We are proud to announce that John Scarpaci, one of the property managers here at Thayer & Associates, has been awarded Community Associations Manager of the Year by the Community Associations Institute (CAI) New England Chapter.

Meet John Scarpaci – Property Manager with Thayer & Associates

John Scarpaci began his career in property management in the early 90s. Since then, John has developed a passion for serving the community under his care. With property management, John is happy with his ability to get outside and stay directly involved with all aspects of the property and the community within.

“I started [my career] around the Tufts University area,” John explained. “I more or less handled rentals for college kids. It was a bunch of three-story buildings all around Tufts University. I like to be outside and involved.”

John’s Current Property – Bishop Forest Condominiums in Waltham, MA

Currently, John is on the ground performing his property management duties for the Bishop Forest Condominiums in Waltham, MA. The property is made up of 216 townhouse units across 70-acres of developed land.

There, John has served the community, the property, and the condo board of trustees diligently. John works with all parties involved to ensure streamlined communication, property upkeep, and to ensure that the community receives the best possible services.

For example, John worked closely with local government officials and the condo board to bring free trash pickup to the Bishop Forest Condominiums. This isn’t a benefit typically offered for condominiums in Massachusetts. But through consistent and respectful communication efforts, John was able to make it happen – greatly benefiting his community.

How Does John Represent Thayer & Associates Property Management?

For anyone who speaks with John, it’s apparent that property management is a true passion. Scarpaci leverages his professional expertise alongside his discussions with property stakeholders to come to solutions that work best for everyone involved. John goes above and beyond wherever he can to ensure positive outcomes.

For this reason, it’s clear to see why John Scarpaci was selected as Community Associations Manager of the Year. 

What Is The Community Associations Institute?

According to the Community Associations Institute New England Chapter:

“Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the New England Chapter (CAI-NE) have been the leaders in providing proven education and resources for community associations in the chapter states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.”

What Is The Community Associations Manager of the Year Award?

Each year, the CAI-NE awards a special recognition for a property manager that goes above and beyond for their managed properties. This year, John Scarpaci was nominated and recognized as Community Associations Manager of the Year by his peers.

Upon finding out about this special recognition, John explains that he was “shocked at first” and honored by all the kind words and write-ups that he has received so far.

“I’ve been working property management all these years, “ John explained, “and you think, wow, someone’s really going to say ‘hey John, thank you. Thank you for what you’ve done.’ – It really means a lot – [someone saying] ‘you didn’t have to. You could have gone home.’ But it all paid off. Achieving property manager of the year is incredible.”

We agree, John. It’s well deserved! Thank you for being part of our team here at Thayer & Associates, Inc and for everything you do daily.

The CAI-NE will formally announce John as the Community Associations Manager of the Year at the annual chapter dinner and awards night on Thursday, May 19th, at the Westin Hotel Waltham.

monopoly board

Prioritizing Maintenance Requests 

Maintenance requests come in all shapes and sizes, from burst pipes to refreshing exterior painting and everything in between. Experienced facilities managers know that not all maintenance requests are created equal. 

All work orders need to be prioritized in order to know what order to complete each request. Knowing how to prioritize comes from years of experience and knowing that some tasks need immediate attention while others can wait. Either way, regular maintenance is meant to keep your tenants safe, the property protected, and ultimately to keep your tenants happy.

While tenants may feel as though every request deserves the highest priority, it is important for the safety of the property and the people living there to rank work orders or requests. 

Most maintenance requests can be categorized into levels of priorities such as: emergency, high priority, medium priority, low priority, and regularly scheduled maintenance. 

Emergency Prioritization 

Most urgent or emergency tasks are fairly obvious in nature. For instance if your building is on fire, has a flooding issue, a gas leak or safety issue, then all other requests should be put on hold until the property is safe and properly cared for. 

Other emergency events such as the following could also fall into this category. 

  • Exposed power lines
  • Total power loss
  • Act of nature such as a tree on the structure or loss of functions such as heat, electricity or plumbing
  • Loss of water to entire building or flood/overflowing plumbing
  • Power or a/c loss in the server rooms
  • People stuck in elevator

Not only can these events pose a danger to the people living there, but they can be financially crippling. It is always a good idea to have a list of vendors that can quickly respond in an emergency situation. 

kitchen fire High Priority

This level of priority translates into tasks that need to be completed in a timely manner or they will become larger and more unruly as time passes. Examples of these types of requests could be: minor leaks, pest infestations, broken appliances, or locks in need of repair. 

Promptly addressing these tasks will ensure that the property remains safe, habitable, and will potentially decrease financial loss. 

Medium Priority

Medium priority tasks may not seem a medium level to your tenants as they may not see the larger picture of tasks on your “To Do” list. However, these tasks are important, but not as important as an urgent situation. 

These tasks may include seasonal maintenance tasks such as debris and bush removal for fire prevention, slip prevention in the fall and winter, and other issues that could pose a risk in the near future. While each of these are time sensitive, but not urgent. 

Low Priority 

Lower priority tasks often fall into regularly scheduled maintenance that can wait until the proper time of year. These include: gutter cleaning, exterior painting, capital repairs, landscaping, and aesthetic changes. 

Communicating these levels of priority may help members of your community understand why some tasks take precedent while others must wait a bit longer to be addressed. Drop us a comment on your methods of prioritizing maintenance requests. 

 

landlord keys

Qualities of a Good Landlord 

In medieval and manorial times, the word landlord often took on many negative connotations from an emphasis on crime to a malevolent land owner. Now, in the modern day, landlords manage apartment complexes and homeowners associations in an efficient, reliable, and professional way. 

The connotation of the name “landlord” has most definitely evolved over the years toward a more positive and helpful side of property management. In fact, the number of landlords in our area is on the rise as rental needs increase. 

According to the United States 2019 Census Statistics, approximately 38% of the Greater Boston area rents rather than owns their residence. That means thousands of young professionals, families, and critical workforce members are renting in the broader Boston area.

If you are planning to manage property (or currently do,) today’s blog is for you. We are looking at some of the top qualities that landlords should possess in order to make community living a more positive experience. 

circular saw

Must Have Qualities of a Good Landlord

What exactly does it take to be a good property manager or landlord? More importantly, what qualities should a landlord possess in order to do their job efficiently? 

Knowledge

Landlords need to have a broad depth of knowledge into many areas. This includes the ability to market their properties and financially manage the money coming in through residents as well as money being spent on major renovations. 

Landlords should also have a working knowledge of the major components of their building including plumbing, pest management, landscaping and more. It doesn’t mean that a landlord should be able to fix every issue, but rather be able to know when a simple fix is needed and when to call in the professionals. 

Communication 

Property managers and landlords live in a time when communication, especially digital communication, can make their job much easier. Text messages, emails, and voicemails can make repairs and communicate about upcoming events like master repairs and landscaping that may be happening in the coming weeks. 

Being able to let your landlord know about a problem and get fast feedback from them is an important part of being a reliable landlord. There are many new software apps available to keep the lines of communication open from both sides. 

Professionalism 

Being a good landlord often means wearing many hats over the course of the day from on-the-fly repair person to financial wizard. Being professional in each of these positions is also a critical part of being a respected landlord. 

At the very least, a landlord is invested in a property. Invested enough to make needed improvements for the residents who live in the community. Most landlords are passionate about their jobs and show pride in the improvements they make in their properties. 

Are you a new or established landlord in the Greater Boston region looking for more information on adding to your property? Follow our blog or contact us for more insightful ideas. 

 

conflict resolution methods

Handling Conflict Resolution in Apartment Complexes 

Disagreements between neighbors living in close quarters, such as apartment complexes, are a common issue and should be handled with care by the landlord, homeowners association, or property management company.  

While it is fairly natural for neighbors to have occasional conflicts over minor things like excessive noise at an inconvenient time, or parking spots during the snowy months, the main goal of those in charge of the complex or community should be to manage the issue before it becomes contentious enough to cause legal action. 

Here are a few ways to help handle conflict resolution and create a more harmonious living community for you and your homeowners. 

dogs barking

What Are the Most Common Issues? 

When living in high density apartments, there are some issues that come up over and over again. Two of the most prevalent issues include noises and smells. 

The issue with noises in apartment complexes could include stereos that are too loud, crying babies, loud footsteps in the apartments above, barking or active pets, or the occasional party. These issues are often solved by a friendly reminder about being courteous to neighbors or regarding the rules about quiet hours.

The second most common issue that landlords often receive complaints about are smells. These malodorous issues usually can be placed in two categories: cooking smells and smoking smells. Smells from a neighbor’s kitchen can sometimes be a welcome aroma during mealtime, or the excessive smell of garlic may turn other’s noses. 

Then, there is the ongoing issue of smoking in areas where cigars, vapes, and cigarettes are prohibited. With state legislation determining where smoking can occur, many neighbors find themselves in a conflict over the presence of smoking odors. 

paperwork

Managing Conflict 

Knowing the most common issues that can stir up conflict is one thing, but knowing how to handle the festering issue is an entirely different one. 

There are several ways property managers can help de-escalate warring neighbors. One of the first things is to listen to each party’s version of the issue. Allowing each person to meet with you separately can give a much needed background to the situation. 

Once each person’s version of the incident or situation is heard, it is a good idea to review the community rules that may make for an easy resolution. For example, if there is no smoking at the poolside, remind all residents of that rule and ask that these guidelines are followed. 

If the situation can be simply solved with a review of the community bylaws or rules, that would be great, however, more often than not, both homeowners may need to meet to resolve lingering animosity. This step in the process comes with the thought that by bringing both parties together that they may be able to hear the rules together so there is no confusion as well as what the consequences are if the rules are not followed. 

If Things Get Ugly 

Avoiding escalation between neighbors is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, de-escalation is not always possible and a mediator (or the courts) may need to get involved. In cases like this it is best to let the legal teams handle the issue and remain an interested third party. 

Drop us a note of how your apartment complex dispute was successfully resolved. 

 

woman communicating on the phone

How To Build Better Communication with Tenants 

Regular communication is an absolute must between property management companies and their tenants. Need the parking lot clear of cars for winter plowing? You’ll need to communicate that with your renters. Renters, have a question or concern about a repair that needs to be completed? They’ll need to have communication access with the landlord or property management company. 

Whether it’s a big or small issue, renters and landlords alike need a reliable method to get communicate with each other. This is especially true in the case of a time sensitive or emergency issue. 

Here are a few ideas on how to open the lines of communication and keep them open. 

communication avenues

Provide Multiple Communication Avenues 

Not everyone communicates in similar manners. Some are comfortable with leaving a voice message or email to communicate an issue, while others feel more accustomed to using software to put in a request for repairs. 

Depending upon the urgency of the issues, different communication avenues may need to be used. For instance, if a tenant has a burst pipe and needs immediate attention, there should be an emergency number that can be used in those instances where someone will respond right away. 

Similarly, if there is an event, such as annual tree trimming that requires informing all residents of the sudden appearance of tree cranes and trucks, a simple email blast may be appropriate for communication. 

During winter, when walkways, driveways, and parking lots will need to be cleared of unit owner’s cars so that the plows may do their work a text message can alert renters when they should move their vehicles. 

As you can see, three different scenarios of varying urgency require different avenues of communication. We suggest that you open up several lines of communication including the use of software apps to schedule repairs or voice a concern, an emergency number for instant response, an email connection, and texts for timely response. Additionally, many communities have a community board where announcements can be placed to ensure that everyone gets the messages. 

feedback

Give Fast Feedback 

No one likes to wait for days on end to get a response. Whether you are the property manager or a renter, try to respond to emails, texts, and calls in a timely manner. This is especially important if scheduling repairs or other timely events. 

Fast feedback doesn’t imply that you will need to rush to respond, but rather respond when you have accurate information to help speed along communication. 

Be Professional 

In this day and age where keyboard warriors feel entitled to respond with anger or frustration, be sure to keep your communications professional. That means be honest and open with what the issues may be without losing patience. Remember that you get more bees with honey than vinegar! 

Good communication starts from the moment the lease has been signed. Introduce yourself and be friendly and open about your concerns. Contact us with your leasing and rental concerns. 

key to a new home

Minimizing Stress During Tenant Transitions 

In an ideal world, good tenants would move in and stay for eternity. Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect and somewhere along your time as a property manager or landlord, you will need to handle the transition from one tenant to another. 

Having a smooth transition between tenants is critical to not only the landlord/property manager but also to the current and future tenants of the unit. Making sure that the property changes over  from one renter to another as smoothly as possible can also be a positive for the property in general. 

Let’s take a closer look from three points of view (landlord, current tenant, and future tenant) at how to make these transitions less stressful and as uneventful as possible. 

Giving Notice 

Depending upon the type of lease agreement you have for your rental property, you will most likely have 30 days to give notice of your departure. A tenancy-at-will has no formal lease agreement, so thirty days to end your rental agreement is usually the norm. 

For renters who have a year-long lease, letting your property manager or landlord know before your lease is up is the norm, although by giving ample time you help make the transition smoother all around. 

End of Lease Rental Checklist

Once a renter has given their notice, a checklist that breaks down what will happen in the last thirty days is a smart idea not only for communication’s sake, but also so that each party knows, in writing, what they are responsible for. For instance, a landlord may require that the unit be clean including a wipe down of the refrigerator and stove. Or a tenant may request a security deposit be returned as long as items on the checklist are completed and no damage to the unit is evident. 

Part of the lease-ending checklist should be the specific date of vacating the property so both the property management team and new renter will have time to arrange for upgrades, repairs, or changes to the unit. 

tools for repairs

Arranging For Repairs 

While inconvenient to the current tenants, many property managers like to get a head start on repairs and upgrades on units that are being vacated. That may mean updates while the current tenant still occupies the unit. 

It’s a good idea to make arrangements for repairs, painting, or deep cleaning to be done in the days immediately after the tenant has moved out. Some managers, however, like to get a jumpstart and schedule out those tasks even while the former tenant is still occupying the property. 

Check your lease agreement to find out when and how these tasks should be handled. 

Formal Walk Through

Walking through a property is not done just at the end of a lease, but should also be done thoroughly at the start of a lease as well. Current and future tenants need to know the condition of the unit as well as any issues that may be remaining from past renters. 

During each of these ‘walkthroughs’ each involved party should look for damage, areas that need repair, and problems with electrical, plumbing, or fixtures. Safety issues and health issues should also be addressed. Report these to the appropriate people so you are not held responsible later. 

If you are in the need of expert property management services to make these types of transitions go smoothly, contact Thayer & Associates

 

handing over the keys

How to Find & Keep Quality Tenants 

One of the best ways for property managers or landlords to protect their investment property is to find quality tenants who will care for the unit and the property, pay their rent on time, and remain in the unit for a considerable length of time. 

It may be tempting to rent your units as quickly as possible to avoid vacant units or apartments, but spending the time to find quality tenants can pay off in the long run. Finding qualified and quality tenants can save time, money, and potential headaches years into the future. 

home or rental key

Top Landlord Concerns 

When it comes to finding quality tenants, there are several criteria that any property manager or landlord will be looking for including: prompt payments, prior eviction history, criminal history, tendency to move constantly, inaccurate or fraudulent information on application, and whether they are a high maintenance tenant. 

Most of these concerns can be identified through a background and credit check but there are some that we must all rely on a little bit of experience with tenants and a sprinkle of intuition. 

In a SmartMove user survey, property owners expressed some clear concerns about bringing on new tenants. Their top concern was, by-far, problems paying bills on time. While this may be your top concern as well, know that checking a tenant’s credit is one way to alleviate major concerns.

What Is A Good Tenant? 

Now that we understand the concerns of property management companies prior to renting a unit, it’s also a good time to set out your criteria of what makes a good tenant in your eyes. 

Some of the major factors that you may be looking for, especially if you are like many companies who are looking for a financially stable renter is to ask these questions: 

  • Does the candidate have a steady income? 
  • How long have they had this particular job? (Looking for longevity.) 
  • What does the candidate’s credit score show about their ability to pay bills on time? 

There are aspects that you will want to research or discover during the application or interview process. These may include: how long they have lived in their current place, why they are moving, or whether they are aware of property guidelines like rules about parking, pets, or guests. 

During the application process you will also be able to learn a little about the person’s character and temperament, which may come in handy if issues arise later.

credit card

Steps to Find & Keep A Good Tenant 

Now that you understand the top concerns of landlords and some key criteria to be on the lookout for with your tenants, you need to know how to find these types of renters. Here are a few places to consider. 

Step 1 List Your Rental Property

Depending upon your location, you may want to list your property units in distinct locations, such as business listings if you are hoping for young professionals or online websites that can help you cast a wide net of candidates. Be careful of your listing locations. If you place an ad in a college paper, you’ll likely be renting to college age tenants. 

Step 2 Do Your Research

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to conduct thorough background checks including any eviction history, criminal history, and a complete credit check. 

Step 3 Look For References 

As your tenant candidate for references from employers, past landlords, and other relevant people so you can get a better sense of what the tenant will be like once they move in. 

 

condo livingroom

Prepping Your Rental for a Smooth Turnover 

As property managers, we are very familiar with the rental turnover cycle. Tenants move in; tenants move out. It is a part of life and there is some sense of both chaos and harmony knowing that the cycle continues on. 

If you have yet to start working with a property management company, you may find yourself dealing with all the details involved with a tenant turnover on your own. If so, we have some tips that may help you make the transition go more smoothly or you may choose to use our services here at Thayer & Associates. 

There are things that a landlord or property management company should do both before the former tenant moves out and before the current tenant moves in. Read on for some ideas to make this as stress-free as possible.

apartment bedroom

Before Your Tenant Moves Out 

As part of your responsibility as a landlord, “It’s your legal responsibility to provide a comfortable, healthy and safe living environment to your tenants, which often entails performing some essential repairs and upgrades,” according to Rentec Direct online

This may mean cleaning the rental unit, making repairs, and ensuring that the unit is safe for the next tenant. You may also want to make upgrades that could increase the value of your rental and attract reliable tenants for future years. 

Conduct a Walkthrough 

As soon as your tenant puts in their notice that they will be moving, you should schedule an informal walkthrough with them to discuss issues such as cleaning that may fall under tenant responsibilities, as well as maintenance, repairs, updates, and landscaping issues that would be in the landlord’s domain. 

Make a list of all that should be done prior to a new tenant moving in and prioritize each task. 

Schedule Professional Services 

Depending upon the condition of the unit and how much work/improvements you may want to complete, scheduling professional services such as a cleaning crew, plumber, electrician, or general contractor should be done well in advance so you can have the work done in a timely manner. 

Establish Move Out Guidelines 

Before your tenant moves out, be sure to give clear guidelines about what the apartment or unit should look like upon handing over the keys. For instance, many property managers require a clean apartment including the stove, refrigerator, and bathrooms. Without the area being free and clean of any leftover property or belongings, landlords often stipulate the loss of the security deposit. 

Another scenario to consider is if walls have been painted or more permanent changes have been made, with or without your consent, be sure to stipulate what should be done to prepare the unit for the next tenant. 

man moving boxes

After Moving Day 

Once your tenant has moved, there are a flurry of tasks that should be completed by the manager, landlord, or company responsible for the property. 

First, the locks should be changed by a professional to ensure that a fresh set of keys will be given for a secure unit. 

From there, many property managers spend a few days painting, cleaning, and repairing any areas that need it. Updates to areas like the kitchen and bathrooms could be done during this window when the unit is not occupied. 

If there are carpenters, windows, or appliances that need cleaning this is the time to get that done as well. 

Tenant turnover is inevitable, but having a sound plan prepared in advance can help make the transition go smoothly. Tell us your transition suggestions below or on our social media pages. If you are in need of tenant turnover help, whether it is marketing or completing the tasks needed to rent out your property, talk to our team about using our services here at Thayer & Associates. 

 

rental keys

Features New Renters Want in 2022 

Rent has been rising at an alarming rate all over the country throughout 2021 and is expected to continue in this trend in the new year, according to a November 2021 Zumper National Rent Report. This study puts median rental prices for the Boston, Massachusetts area at $2470, which ranks as the third highest in the country behind New York City and SanFrancisco, CA. 

Rising rental rates come with some expectations on the part of renters and unit owners. New renters want to see some features and amenities that can offset or at least incentivize them to choose one rental location over another. 

With these things in mind, today’s blog will be examining some of the rental property features, amenities, and trends that renters are coming to expect in the new year. 

texting communication

Online Payments and Requests

We live in a digital age and renters have come to expect that their dealings with their home should also be convenient and easy. Millennials and other generations want to be able to do many things online such as: pay rent, request in-unit repairs, and chat with management when questions arise. 

We recently published a blog that expounded the many Benefits of Association Software as a way to meet the needs of a new generation of renters. This online software can increase communications with renters, improve security, and streamline data for both your unit owners and management group. 

swimming pool

Property Improvements 

With increased rental rates, renters have come to expect that properties will continue improvements such as bonus spaces including pools, fitness rooms, laundry facilities, and terrace areas for urban locations. 

With millions of millennials in the rental market, Butterfly MX recently reported that 86% of millennial renters are “willing to pay more for a multi-family home or apartment and are willing to pay more for a “smart” apartment, compared to 65% of boomers who would request the same.” 

Obviously each property will have only so much space to expand and make improvements, but renters want to see that not only are repairs being maintained regularly, but that amenities are being added to offset the rate increases. 

The Need For Parking Spaces Is Disappearing 

In decades past, a trend that would have made this list of wants by renters would be a parking space. The dawn of ridesharing and other mass transit options has moved parking spots from high on the list of wants to a lower category. 

What are your list of top features of amenities wanted by newer renters? Drop us a comment below or check us out on our Facebook page. 

 

plumbing repair

Most Common Repairs in Rental Property 

No home, apartment, or condominium is immune to breakdowns or the need for repairs. Even the most well-cared for properties have a lifespan. Knowing that rental property repairs are an inevitable part of being a landlord or property manager means that you know how a fast and reliable response is key to retaining happy tenants. 

In order to understand the role of a good property manager, it is critical to understand the most common repairs that they must be prepared for no matter how new or old the facilities are. 

Faulty Appliances 

From the fridge to the stop to the dishwasher the number of things that could go wrong is infinitesimal. Every appliance has working and moving parts which means more possibilities of things going wrong. 

Dishwashers that won’t operate the rinse cycle, freezers that are burnt out, and ovens that have heating elements that no longer work are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to appliances that need repairs. 

Property managers can choose a few methods to deal with these unavoidable incidents; they can hire a full time repair person to troubleshoot each appliance issue, or contract a repair company that has a wide range of specialists depending upon the appliance and brand of appliance. Then there is always the do-it-yourself option that often results in calling an expert in the end anyway. 

plumbing tools

Leaks, Drips, & Clogs 

One of the most common (and costly) repair areas in a rental property is plumbing. This could include: dripping faucets, leaky pipes, and clogged toilets, sinks, and tubs. 

Water is the common denominator for all of these issues and sadly, it can cost hundreds of dollars to fix these types of issues. Not fixing is not an option as mold and mildew may develop along with damaging wood, drywall, flooring, and ceilings in the process. 

Add to this list, clogged toilets and garbage disposals that are no longer churning, and property owners could be running from one unit to the next ad nauseum. 

Having a trusty plumber on call, or even on the payroll, can help keep costs down as well as reminding tenants to notify management the moment a problem arises. 

ant

Pesky Pests 

No tenant or unit owner wants to deal with mice, rats, termites, ants, bed bugs, or any of the number of pests that could take up residence in a property. 

According to new research by Apartment Guide, Boston, Massachusetts and the Greater Boston region was named the area with the second most rodent infestations. First place to this undesirable award goes to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

The Massachusetts area is experiencing a higher than usual rodent infestation in the last few years. Whether the cause is changing weather or an increase in urban construction, it is apparent that rental properties are experiencing these pests at an alarming rate. 

In order to combat these issues property managers and landlords should keep up with regular pest control services. It’s also helpful to remind tenants of behaviors that could be attracting pests such as open trash cans, rotting food, and unclean spaces. 

Maintaining properties is a full time job and one that can be equated with happy tenants and unit owners. Make sure you have skilled craftsmen on call to handle all of your repairs as they arise.