Tenant and Occupancy Management Function of Property Management
A property can be nicely designed and in a desired area, but it will not be a profitable rental property if tenants aren't managed properly and occupancy maintained at a high level.
When tenants are not happy, they vacate at the end of their leases, or even sometimes before. Not only does this reduce income due to unpaid rents, it also increases costs for marketing to replace the lost tenants. Effective tenant management involves:
- Good rent collection practices; What is in your lease about when rent is due when it will be considered late, what the penalties will be and when you will take more drastic action? The first rule of good tenant relations and rents is to have a clear set of rules and instructions for your tenants, and then you must consistently enforce your rules.
- Responsive handling of repairs and maintenance; Not to harp on good communications and written instructions, but it's how to avoid problems in this area as well. Your tenants should know when and how to report a maintenance problem. The easier you make the process the better. They need some idea of how soon you will respond, both during a regular workday, as well as at night or on weekends. Knowing will reduce complaints. If you're calling in repair vendors, make it important to them to be responsive to your tenants and to keep you informed if there are problems in doing so.
- Consistent and fair enforcement of regulations: Don't favor some tenants over others or enforce only the rules that upset you the most. Every time you fail to follow through on written lease rules, you weaken your ability to do so in the future. It could come back to haunt you if things go all legal on you.
- regular and informative communication with tenants: From door flyers to email, it's not a problem to communicate with your tenants, no matter what their schedules. Social sites are changing a lot of things, and this is one of them. Communicating with your tenants via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social sites will strengthen your relationships. You may even use a Twitter account to communicate directly with them about repairs and other concerns.
Failure in any of these areas will result in dissatisfied tenants, lower occupancy rates, increased marketing costs and lower return on investment. A property manager that does not consistently perform well at these duties will likely be replaced by the owner.
Giving your tenants options for rent payment, such as using credit cards is a great loyalty tool. Yes, it costs money, but they generally will not do it unless they have to. Also, you can usually add a small percentage as a courtesy fee to use their card.
Some online resources have come up that offer the credit card services, as well as online tenant applications, background checks and more. Your tenants can apply online, pay their rent online, and even renew their lease online in some cases. These services can be well worth the money.
More on Using Social Sites with Tenants
You could find that there are other good reasons to use Facebook and Twitter for communication with your tenants. The very nature of the social sites is about sharing. When you have a good online interaction with a tenant, they may share it, and you're enjoying a marketing opportunity.
Of course, this sword cuts both ways. If there is a complaint or problem, you MUST address it quickly and aggressively to make the tenant happy. You want them to share that you took care of the issue, not avoided it. You can actually make a better impression after a mistake if they see that you intend to make your tenants happy.
You should monitor the social sites for mentions of you and your rental units. They will not always address problems to you directly. Catching them and solving them will go a long way in public relations.