Category Archives: unit owners

software on a laptop

3 Issues Landlords Face

Landlords wear many hats during their tenure. These “hats” could include being a fix-it person, bill collector, or negotiator. Staying on top of issues can be a stressful but also rewarding career in the property management field. If you are considering entering the industry, here are 3 issues that you will want to prepare yourself for as you take on this industry. 

Turnover Rates 

Some of the busiest times in a property manager or landlord’s career are during the times when a unit is being turned over from one tenant to another. While this time gives a perfect opportunity to make improvements or repairs to a unit, it can also be a costly time. 

When a tenant gives his/her notice that they will be vacating a property, it is imperative that the unit be filled in a timely manner. That means marketing or advertising the opening, ensuring the property is properly cleaned and vacated, and finding a suitable candidate to rent the space. 

Remember, once a property is vacant, it is no longer making money and can quickly become a cash flow issue. 

Strategies to keep your tenants happy include making maintenance a priority, ensuring that the rent rate is fair, and ensuring that your selection process includes looking for long-term renters who are financially solid. 

Late Payments 

There’s nothing worse than having to chase down your rent payments. Dealing with later payers or lack of payment entirely can be a huge cash flow issue that can become a legal one. 

Strategies to overcome this include increasing communication with tenants about what your maintenance schedule includes. That way they understand the value of their payments. Another tactic is to make payments easy by having an online portal or payment system that can be done right at a tenant’s fingertips either through a computer or smartphone. 

tools for repairs

Maintenance Calls 

Toilets don’t always clog during work hours. Roofs don’t leak only during the day. Snow doesn’t only fall during the week. That means your job as a landlord is essentially around the clock all year long. That includes weekends and holidays and all through the night. 

A strategy to handle the onslaught of maintenance calls is to have a list of reliable repair people, including plumbers and electricians, who can be called at any time of day or night to handle emergencies. 

Some property managers have their own crew, but if you don’t you will want to build partnerships with local service people so you can maintain your properties 24/7. 

 

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. 

 

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. 

 

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.