Category Archives: association living

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. 

 

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

 

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4 Most Common Tenant Issues

As property managers, there’s often quite a bit on our plates. From handling emergency repairs to scheduling regular maintenance and from collecting rent to staying updated on trending property issues. It’s important to be on top of it all. One way to do that is to be proactive in handling common tenant issues. 

To this end, let’s discuss four of the four most common tenant issues that landlords and property managers tackle on a regular basis. tools for repairs

Maintenance Issues 

From leaky faucets to overflowing toilets, property managers and landlords are accustomed to various maintenance requests. The trick is to create a process for managing the requests in a timely and organized fashion. 

In a recent blog, we examined methods to prioritize maintenance requests that can be helpful. Going digital and using software to help you track and anticipate requests is also a fantastic method to surviving the sometimes ocean-like wave of maintenance issue requests. 

The most important thing is to choose a method notification, inform your renters the priority list and follow through will all requests as quickly and responsively as possible. 

Neighbor Issues 

Not everyone has Mr. Rogers as their neighbor. That, unfortunately, means that noise complaints, pet complaints, and a whole host of scenarios can become a property manager’s biggest nightmare. 

Whether it’s loud music, crying children, obnoxious parties at all hours, or a heavy foot heard above, the list of complaints can go on forever. A good technique for property managers is to talk with both the tenant making the complaint as well as those who are the focus of the complaint. Find out the details and respectfully request that changes and solutions be followed. 

For chronic or persistent complaints, put in writing the rules of the community or building and make it known what behaviors are prohibited and at what times. key in door lock

Lack of Communication 

No renter likes to have to chase down a property manager any time they need assistance or have a question. Good tenants are hard to find, so addressing their questions in a timely fashion is also important. 

Experienced property managers know that having many methods of communication available is a good way to keep your renter informed about changes in the community or repairs that have been scheduled. Some property management companies provide an app that renters can put in requests, while others use texting capabilities to answer questions. Still, others use monthly newsletters or postings to keep everyone in the community apprised of events, repairs, or updates. 

Pest Problems 

Whether it’s a cockroach, bed bug, mouse, or another wildlife critter, no renter wants to handle the issue on their own. 

Pest problems are one of the most common issues landlords and property managers deal with. In order to be proactive and prevent rodents from finding your area attractive, request that trash barrels be put out only as early as the night before pick up and that lockable covers be used. Additionally, suggest that any outdoor cooking areas be cleaned well after use to prevent wildlife from finding your property attractive. 

To address issues once they happen, always have pest professionals on call to handle discretely any pest that may have infiltrated your properties. 

 

urban condo

Property Management & Time Management 

Property managers lead jam-packed days and (often) nights. By the end of a workday, many may wonder where all their time went and what they accomplished on a given day. That’s where effective time management comes into play, something that’s a critical skill for busy property managers. 

The phrase ‘time is fleeting’ is especially true for always-on-the-go property managers who juggle multiple properties and renters. Thankfully there are some tricks to the trade as well as some new technology that can keep time from slipping through your fingers. Here are a few suggestions. 

Prioritize Tasks

As a property manager, it may be easy to fall victim to the idea that every task is critical because it is important to your renters. This is a myth. Some tasks should take priority over others. 

Every day, property managers should take a look at their list of repairs, concerns, or issues and determine which ones are most pressing. Think of plumbing problems, safety issues, and issues that could lead to bigger problems if not dealt with immediately as your top priority. Make it a goal to complete three to five of them and get to the less critical problems later in the day or week. 

ipad tasks

Group Tasks 

If there are several renters or unit owners who are having similar issues such as landscape issues, HVAC maintenance, or paperwork questions, group them together and try to accomplish it as a chunk. 

For instance, if many renters are having drain issues, hire a plumber to take care of each renter all in one day. Or if you have lots of accounting or paperwork issues, dedicate a chunk of time to only doing that type of work. 

Utilize Technology for Organization 

Technology can be a wonderful thing when used to keep your work streamlined. Try a new property management software that can keep you organized and focused on the task at hand. 

Property management software can keep the paperwork organized and save time and energy when keeping track of maintenance, rent, and other daily tasks. 

Delegate & Outsource

Property managers are good at many things: light repairs, paperwork, and fielding questions from renters. They should, however,  leave the electrical work, plumbing, and other skilled work to the professionals. 

It’s a good idea to have a list of loyal vendors that can be called upon in an emergency or for regular maintenance. This will save time and allow you to knock off a few other items on your to-do list while they do what they are trained to do. woman communicating on the phone

Communicate 

When prioritizing tasks, including requested repairs, it’s a good idea to communicate when a task is expected to be completed. This may seem like a time-waster but, in the end, it will save you time from fielding calls about when the work will be done. 

A newsletter or property manager website can help keep all of your properties or renters informed about what’s going on in their community. 

 

condo pool

How a Management Co. Can Save You Time & Money 

Self-managing your rental properties may seem like a lucrative and easy business, but you would be amazed at how hiring a management company to handle all the details and day-to-day running of the property can be both a time saver and cost-effective. 

If managing a rental property is new to you or you have multiple properties, you could benefit from the experience, technology, and efficiency of a property management company partnering with you. Here are a few of the ways you will find this type of company can save you precious time and money. 

Quality Marketing & Fewer Rental Turnovers 

One of the biggest hassles of being a landlord comes when a renter gives their notice and they tell you what day they plan to move out. This signals a flurry of tasks that must get done including listing the apartment or unit, cleaning, making repairs, and sifting through the applications for the candidates for renting. 

This can be a lot all at once with only a small window of time to get it all done. A management company can not only handle all the marketing that needs to be done to find a new renter but can use software designed to examine which renters have better credit and which may end up being loyal long term renters versus a constant revolving door of unit owners. 

tools for repairs

Maintenance Management 

Taking care of a property means not just worrying about rental turnover but all the details of running a property. This could include small or large maintenance issues like plumbing, electrical, misplaced keys, HVAC issues, or problems with appliances. 

Management companies make it their business to either keep reputable maintenance companies on retainer or they work often enough with vendors that they know the most cost-effective and reliable ones when an issue surfaces. They know who is available 24/7 during emergencies and who can take care of long-term issues that arise. 

Rent Collection & Communication 

Thankfully in 2022, there are many software programs and apps that make paying rent easier than ever. And if the case arises where a renter does not pay in a timely fashion, the property management has time-tested policies and access to legal power to rectify the situation or work with the renter in the case of an emergency. 

Communication is key in the rental business. Management companies can save you time by communicating regularly with unit owners about due dates, upcoming maintenance, and any announcements that need to be made. 

With the right property management company on your side, you can save yourself lots of time and money in this exciting but sometimes chaotic industry. 

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. 

 

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.