Q and A by Carol Levey
Q. I’m a manager at a property that has experienced a higher than budgeted vacancy. There’s a lot of pressure from the owner to lease, lease, lease now that traffic has picked up. The owner’s impression is that too much non-productive effort has been spent on qualifying the applicants and reviewing the lease documents with potential residents. The argument is that if we make it too hard to lease at our community they will keep looking.
Any thoughts about how we strike the right balance to increase leases?
It is certainly a good idea to periodically review your leasing criteria to ensure that it is attracting and retaining the customers you want. You might uncover one or several qualifications that need adjustment under current market conditions. You should also review what is being said by all members of your leasing team and the timing of presentation. Having said this it should be understood that being thorough during the application process and clear during the leasing documentation are essential to a qualified prospect becoming a satisfied resident. This is a unique opportunity to understand what you are getting and what everyone can expect going forward. It becomes the defining conversation that all team members can reference when dealing with situations months later. In order for this to work every team member must have had the same conversation in a similar way.
Nine out of ten situations that come up during the lease term are covered within the documentation. The problems arise because all parties never understood the lease or the lease is not used consistently to resolve these problems when they arise. Entering into a lease is extremely important due to the fact that it is a legal and binding contract and should not be entered into lightly. The good news is that an adequate investment upfront will reduce time, aggravation and liability for everyone during the lease term. What could be worse than an apartment sitting vacant? Just imagine an occupied apartment with an unqualified, non-paying, uncooperative resident
Rent Sense: What Renters Want
By Neil Fjellestad and Chris De Marco
FBS Property Management
We can’t tell you how often a rental owner comes to us with a vacancy problem and wants to tell us what the rent will be and/or their specifications for a qualified renter at that rate. Perhaps in no other industry do small businesses (independent housing providers) of goods (rental homes) and services (renter services) spend so little time responding to their customers or even asking what priorities do their renters deem important?
On the other hand, property management companies are very concerned about what our rental customers want and we talk to them a lot to find out. If we don’t keep our finger on the pulse of renter requirements and preferences how can we continue to produce optimum results for the independent rental owners we have represented for over four decades.
Certainly, there is a myriad of concerns when a potential renter looks at one rental property and compares it with another as they work out the best solutions to their financial and lifestyle requirements. These concerns have been addressed in past columns.
There are also concerns a renter has when considering doing business with one housing provider compared to another.
Here are a few priorities-
• The rent payment needs to be securely handled with accuracy every time. Scams flourish that somehow extract rent from a trusting potential renter without delivering product or avoid total accountability for rents, fees, and deposits upon move out. Most qualified renters prefer (68%) paying their rent to a regular rental management company versus an individual landlord.
• All renters want their security deposit held in a separate account where these funds are subject to reasonable review.
• The rent payment is time sensitive and should be subject to late penalties. Having said that, qualified renters are busy and over loaded. Most renters (59%) want to utilize an online rent payment option for speed, convenience and financial security.
• Renters want an emergency contact available at all times for possible property issues that need immediate attention. In addition, renters rely on smart phones and the internet to convey their routine maintenance concerns at their convenience.
• Financially concerned renters want the handling of their move-out: inspection of condition, returning keys and refund of security deposits to be transparent, direct and fair.