Category Archives: unit owners

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. 

 

walkway with landscaping

Fall Landscaping to Prep for Winter 

The work of a property management company is never really done. There are tasks to be completed during every season. Fall is no exception to that rule. In fact, this time of year is critical to ensuring that steps are taken to prepare the landscaping including the lawn, walkways, and driveways for the onslaught of a typical New England winter. 

Responsive and proactive property management companies know that there are many tasks that should be completed during this time of year to ensure that residents and visitors alike will remain safe and that the landscaping will flourish in the coming year. 

Here are a few of those steps that your management team may want to consider. 

gazebo and green grass

Landscaping 

While the growing season may be almost done, there is still much to do to ready the grass, shrubs, and trees for the winter season. 

We all know that winter can be fairly wild here in Massachusetts but if you take the right care of your landscaping you will find the winter more bearable and the spring to reap rewards of your fall efforts. 

  • Rake all leaves and remove them from the property. This will help the grass breathe and stop leaves from becoming slipping issues along your walkways and driveways. 
  • Aerate grass and apply the last fertilizer. 
  • Cut grass for the final time during the season. 

In order to protect your shrubbery and ornamental plants from the cold and snow build-up our region can experience, you may want to take further steps. 

  • Prune trees to ensure spring flowering will occur. 
  • Trim dead or broken branches so they won’t fall during winter storms. 
  • Protect shrubbery against winter water loss by protecting it in a layer of mulch. 
  • Wrap tender plantings in burlap or by building an A frame wooden protection system around bushes that are open to heavy snow. 
  • Minimize salt damage by having an area to shovel or plow snow that will not impact plantings. 

pavers in circle

Hardscaping 

Non-organic aspects of your landscaping such as the walkways, stone walls, and driveways will need upkeep during the fall months as well. 

Make sure you have removed all leaves and debris after the majority of foliage has fallen. This will save you time and effort in the spring and keep your walkways and driveways safe for your residents to walk. 

Provide driveways guides for your snow plow operators to visually see the edges to stop damage to sidewalks and landscape areas. 

Place salt containers in easily accessible areas so residents can use them if their cars become stuck on ice or snow. This will also make it easier for your shovel crew to salt after each storm. 

Prep now so that your New England winter will go smoothly no matter what Mother Nature sends our way. 

 

condo building

Filling Rental Vacancies Fast 

As a side effect of the pandemic, many rental properties have remained vacant for longer than usual. Whether it is due to college and universities going remote, so students no longer need their rental, or a major shift to suburban living overcrowded city life, apartments that are usually a hot commodity have slowed down in rental allure. Thus, filling rental vacancies has become a pivotal part of property management responsibilities. 

Here are a few ideas that may help landlords quickly fill vacancies that may occur over the course of the year. 

Keep Your Listings Current on Your Website

According to RentTec Direct, “72% of renters use the Internet when looking for a new apartment according to a study conducted by Apartments.com and Google which evaluated the top avenue renters use to find their next rental property.”

If you are not keeping your vacancies up-to-date on your site, you may be missing a large portion of renters that find their next apartment online. 

Evaluate Your Pricing 

Your future renters will be doing their homework and shopping around to see which spaces include utilities, which do not, and which ones may offer some sort of amenities such as a yard or outdoor entertaining space. 

Be sure to examine what the market is telling you your rent should be according to current situations. Once you have examined you can easily justify why the rent is set at a certain amount. 

condo pool

Utilize Professional Cleaners 

Apartments that have been professionally cleaned, including the kitchen and bathrooms, appear better to potential renters. If you hire a cleaning crew you will not only save yourself some time and elbow grease, but also make your property look more appealing to those hoping to rent. 

Keep in mind that renters check out every corner of the unit before they sign on the dotted line. By contracting this chore out, you will be maintaining your reputation for having spotless units as well as having renters find the unit above reproach. 

Consider Perks 

If you want to fill your rental quickly with quality renters, consider some perks. 

Offer your current renters (or outgoing renters) referral awards to entice word-of-mouth recommendations. There is nothing better than finding a renter through a referral from someone who has been a quality tenant for years! 

home or rental key

Advertise Immediately

If you do not have a referral program, you should try to advertise a vacancy immediately upon getting notice from the tenants. 

Most rental units come with a requirement of giving 30 days’ notice to the landlord before moving out. Act immediately upon getting the notice to advertise the unit so that there will not be a vacancy the next month. Every time that unit sits empty you are losing income from that space. 

Follow our blogs for more ideas on how to keep your properties well run and efficient now and going forward. 

 

virtual meeting

Hybrid In-person/Virtual Meetings, Are They Even Possible?

Now that the country has transitioned to the ‘Post-COVID’ era we can look back and, even in the face of the devastating impact of the world-wide pandemic, find nuggets of positive changes and new, better and creative ways of doing things.

We have all become more careful; we wash our hands more frequently, we clean and sanitize the surfaces we touch, we sneeze into our elbows, we dine outdoors and more and more of us are getting vaccinated. As an annoyingly positive thinker, I am confident that these changes will continue well into the future and that everyone will be healthier as a result.

OK, we are dropping the use of masks and other restrictions both at work and at home. Some of us are more comfortable with the pace of our return to ‘normal’ or at least ‘the new normal’ and that is ok. I suspect everyone is very glad that things are finally moving in a better direction.

Out of Necessity

One of the changes many of us made during the pandemic was to move from in-person to virtual meetings. Until the pandemic forced everyone to think of ways to function without exposure to COVID, very few communities embraced the idea of holding so-called ‘virtual’ meetings. Almost overnight the terms Zoom, WEBEX and Microsoft Teams became a regular part of our daily conversations.

We have no way of knowing whether or not communities will prefer in-person or virtual meetings. It is reasonable to expect that demand for virtual meetings will remain stronger than it was before COVID came ashore. We have found that associations that held virtual or hybrid meetings generally experienced increased participation and, overall, an increase in satisfaction with the experience of attending meetings. We simply cannot ignore the fact that many unit owners were unable to attend in-person meetings but were able to attend virtual meetings.

I have a confession to make: I want my cake and eat to. Why not conduct Hybrid In-person / Virtual meetings? A Hybrid In-person/Virtual meeting provides the opportunity for people to be together in person in a room and at the same time connect with an audience that is attending virtually.   All meeting participants – both in person and virtual – have access to the same information and the ability to communicate with everyone at the meeting.

Having conducted Hybrid In-person / Virtual Meetings for a couple of years now, we find that they are not only possible but most association board members and owners who have experienced well-run Hybrid In-person / Virtual Meetings find that they are actually more convenient and preferable to in-person meetings- this is especially so for board members and unit owners who are away or who find attending in-person meeting difficult or even impossible.

Zoom meeting Best Practices for Conducting a Hybrid In-Person/Virtual Meeting

  1. Technology

Here is a check list of what you need:

  • A laptop computer with ample HDMI, USB and audio outlets.
  • A high-quality full-size EPSON Video Projector.
  • A large video screen, a suitably sized monitor or a large white wall surface.
  • A Bose L1° Compact Line Array Public Address System. This is a great public address system that can easily accommodate a meeting of 200 or more people and pairs with a Shure BETA 58° Wired Microphone and 2 wireless microphones.
  • 2 SHURE Model BLX4R Wireless Receivers.
  • A Mackie Model 402VLZ4 4-Cannel Ultra Compact Mixer to transmit the signal between the Bose public Address System and the wireless microphones
  • The all-in-one camera-microphone product designed and manufactured by OWL Labs. This product produces a clear 360° image, automatically locates and highlights the speaker, offers good to great sound quality and it is a truly amazing piece of technology.
  • Zoom Video Conferencing, WEBEX, Microsoft Teams or an equivalent video conferencing platform. We have found that most of our clients are familiar with Zoom and Zoom offers convenient and useful features such a Waiting Room, Chat, Screen Sharing, Mute, Recording, etc. These feature help facilitate more effective meeting presentations.
  • Plenty of HDMI, USB, 9-pin, audio, power and other cables to connect all of the a/v equipment.
  • A reliable wifi connection.
  • Extra batteries for the wireless microphones.
  • An extension cord and power strip.
  • Power Point to prepare agendas and exhibits.
  • A suitable meeting room.
  1. unit owners meetings

  2. Preparation

Another critical consideration for Hybrid In-person / Virtual Meeting is the preparation and presentation of agendas and exhibits. Creating Power Point Presentations allows a manager and board members to present agendas, exhibits, documents, photographs, etc. through screen-sharing features.

In a Zoom meeting, the host simply clicks on Zoom’s Screen-share feature and opens the Power Point Presentation – full-screen – and everyone attending the meeting in-person can see the presentation on-screen and everyone attending virtually via Zoom can see it on their computers, laptops or tablets.

Here are some other important tips.

  • Set up and check to make sure that all a/v equipment is operating properly and that you have all of the equipment, cables, power cords, power strips, extra batteries, etc. the day before a meeting. There is nothing worse than getting to a meeting and encountering an equipment failure or a missing piece of equipment.
  • Mute all attendees, except for board members and the management team. This helps keep the meeting focused and on track.
  • Ask attendees to submit their questions and comments through the chat feature. This enables the host, board members and presenters to monitor and respond to questions and comments from unit owners.
  • Arrange to have a separate member of the management team host the Zoom Conference. This enables the board members and the property manager to concentrate on the presentation without being distracted with operating the Zoom features.
  • Activate Zoom’s Record feature and provide the link to all unit owners, so that those who were unable to attend can view the meeting. It is recommended that someone announce that the meeting is being recorded.

I want to leave everyone with the following thoughts.

Hybrid In-person / Virtual Meetings provide associations with an invaluable opportunity to accommodate unit owners who prefer to attend meetings in person as well as unit owners who are away or who are unable to attend in-person meetings. The end result is increased participation, which is a goal we share all share.

Setting up Hybrid In-person / Virtual Meetings may seem daunting. However, if I can do it, and I have, anyone can.

Finally, have some fun! For techno-geeks like me setting up Hybrid Meetings is like a kid in a candy store.

Douglas Thayer, CPM is President/Owner of Thayer & Associates, Inc., AMO