Effective Methods for Individual Property Owners to Manage Multiple Properties with Ease
Managing all those properties, whether they’re buildings with multiple units or standalone single-family homes, doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task. There are actions that individual property owners can take right now to reduce the stress and difficulty that comes with doing it all by yourself.
Organization and careful preparation are two of the cornerstones to success when you are just one owner with more than one property on the market. Careful attention to detail is key and these are just some of the tried and true methods that are proven to be useful when taking on so much with so little time to do it all.
The goal, of course, is to keep 100% occupancy in every building for as long as possible. If and when a unit does become vacant, the objective is to get it off the market quickly since an empty unit is not generating revenue.
Consider the following as you navigate a complex housing market:
Branding and Marketing
Any good business is only as successful as its marketing strategy. For rental properties, that means knowing your target demographic and the best ways to reach that audience. When you are managing multiple properties, you don’t want them to be portrayed as independent entities. They should all be part of an established brand with a strong reputation and awareness in the marketplace.
Do some research into the region in which your building or rental property is located. Knowing the age range of the market is also going to be important because that will allow you to make informed decisions on how to market your properties to the desired audience. Digital marketing by way of Instagram is probably not the best option for the 55 and older crowd, while putting ads in the local newspaper will likely fail to attract 18-35 year olds.
Don’t underestimate the impact of a strong online presence. A professional website, a mobile app, and active pages on the major social media platforms is a great way to get started. These can be essential partners in creating a consistent message that best reflects the characteristics of your brand.
Finally, be sure it’s a clear and simple message. Think about the major brands that we all interact with on a regular basis. What sets them apart and what makes them recognizable? Who are they targeting? How are they portrayed and what does that say about their reputation? Name a few brands off the top of your head and then answer these questions. These can be very useful in marketing your rental property brand.
Looks matter when it matters how you look. Nobody wants to live in a property that is run down and badly in need of repairs. Vermin infestations are a deal breaker. Neglect only compounds the damage done and when a building is left to rot, the tenants don’t stick around long. Your properties have to support the image of your brand and when they fail in that capacity, the brand fails and your business follows soon after.
When prospective tenants come to visit your property, their decision whether or not to submit an application is often made from the first moment they lay eyes on the exterior of the building. This is true for single-family homes and multi-level apartment complexes alike. If the exterior looks shabby, the interior is likely just as bad. Today’s renters are smart and discerning, they don’t want to rent a property that isn’t attractive and inviting on the inside and out.
That’s why it is so important to keep current on all maintenance and repairs throughout every property. Older buildings need particular tender loving care because the older they get, the more things start to fall apart, usually when you least expect. The best thing you can do is listen to your tenants when they tell you something is broken in their unit or a function of the common area has failed to work properly. When these problems are left unaddressed for long periods of time, they only get worse not better and, in some cases, cause other problems that you would have been able to avoid had you acted quicker.
Your tenants should be your allies in this regard. You’re an individual property owner, you can’t be in multiple places at the same time. When one of them has a complaint about a leaky pipe in the unit or a burnt out bulb in the front lobby of the building, act fast. Failing to do so will only allow more problems to add up and, before you know it, your rental property is no longer appealing to anybody. That leads to unoccupied units and a bad reputation that prevents future tenants from moving in.
Don’t Hire Cheap
Prioritize important maintenance and repairs among your many properties and always have the best contractors on speed dial. You may pay a little more for the work, but you can rest easy knowing you’ve invested your resources into protecting your rental properties and your business for years to come. Cheap work brings down the value of the unit and the property as a whole.
When a prospective tenant walks into your unit looking to rent, first impressions say a lot. If the appliances are old and the paint looks like it was sprayed on with an aerosol can, it says a lot about you as an owner. Tenants are more willing to sign a lease agreement for a unit they can be proud to occupy. They’re also far more likely to respect the space and take good care of it during the lease term.
Cheap labor also makes your property appear cheap. Poorly built or poorly installed fixtures, lousy repair jobs that don’t fix the problem, and cheap materials that don’t last can serve as warning signs that your property is not worth the money you’re charging for rent.
Good work might cost more but you’re paying for more than just labor. You’re making an investment in the success of your properties and your business. As an individual owner with multiple properties, you’ll be glad you paid for quality work so you won’t have to worry about returning to a maintenance or repair issue once it’s been addressed.
Working with Tenants
I’ve said it time and again, tenants are the lifeblood of any rental property. Empty units don’t generate revenue. That’s why it is so critical to foster positive relationships with your tenants from the very start. Good tenants are hard to find and every property owner has dealt with difficulties in some form or another. I don’t know one landlord who hasn’t had to go through the process of serving a three-day notice. Evictions can be extremely costly and it’s not just the legal fees either. Getting a problem tenant out of your unit is a drain on your time, something very precious when you’re juggling the tasks and responsibilities of managing multiple properties. Working with tenants in a positive manner is beneficial for all parties involved.
But in order to maintain good relationships with your tenants, you must do all you can to reduce the risk of allowing a problem tenant into your property.
Most of your issues with tenants can be avoided from the very start by screening every tenant who chooses to submit a rental application. That process is vital for getting as much information as possible about a potential tenant before you hand over the keys.
Failing to perform this step can have you chasing late rent payments every month and put your property at risk of upheaval through damage done to your unit and consistent negative behavioral patterns that disturb other tenants. One bad tenant can even cause good tenants to move out of your property as they seek out an alternative living arrangement that is managed with more expertise and professionalism.
A comprehensive screening of a future tenant can include a variety of verification factors including credit reports, criminal background checks, and eviction histories.It’s up to you to decide how deep you wish to dig into an applicant’s trustworthiness. Most landlords will run a credit check and a basic verification report to ensure the tenant is being truthful about their identity and they are a good candidate for the unit by demonstrating he or she can pay the rent on time.
A background check can tell you even more about the applicant’s history with respect to any previous arrests or conviction for breaking the law. An eviction history is typically remains on an individual’s record for seven years. After that time, the eviction will no longer be visible to landlords who conduct such checks.
The screening process should also include gathering information about the individuals who will be occupying the space and the extent of their responsibility for paying the rent. A good landlord will have all occupants over the age of 18 who intend to live in the unit submit applications for review. If it’s a family with young children, a landlord will have to decide if he or she wishes to rent the property with the expectation of increased wear and tear. A landlord might even ask for an increase in the security deposit to anticipate that wear and tear.
The same consideration can be made for tenants with pets. Animals in a unit, if well-trained and well-behaved, can be a welcome addition to any home but if a pet has not been raised properly to avoid causing damage, the owner is responsible for paying any repairs costs. Many landlords impose security deposits for pets to cover those costs, just in case.
Maintaining Good Relationships
Once you’ve approved the candidate whose application meets your criteria, it’s vital that you work towards keeping a good rapport with them. You always want to maintain a level of mutual respect and honor their privacy. When the tenant feels comfortable living in the unit, they are more likely to approach you with a problem. This is particularly important when dealing with tenants who you may not get along with but remain cordial and professional when talking to one another.
A contentious landlord-tenant relationship is only going to lead to further difficulty and might even become confrontational. It’s very important that you comply with appropriate housing laws with respect to privacy and permitted entry into the unit, otherwise you could be asking for a lawsuit. Violating a tenant’s rights is cause for concern and the tenant may have every right to sue. But a healthy landlord-tenant relationship can help to avoid those issues from happening, always give notice when you need to enter a unit and be sure it’s for a valid reason and not something else that might be perceived as inappropriate or illegal on your part.
Housing laws are very strict and they go a long way to protect tenants from discrimination and invasion of privacy. A tenant’s rights are explicit and a good landlord will do everything necessary for remaining in compliance with the law.
It can be very easy to get scattered and let small things slip through the cracks when you have so many properties to manage. Staying well-organized can go a long way towards keeping everything in order and remaining on task. But sometimes, it does become too much for one person to handle all by him or herself. That’s when it might be time to call in a property management company like Lotus West Properties to take on these responsibilities for you and work with all your rental properties with expertise and professionalism.
If the pressure and the stress of doing it all by yourself becomes too difficult to navigate or you notice that some of your properties are beginning to get neglected or you simply don’t want to manage the properties yourself anymore, it’s always a good idea to bring in some help.
Hiring a property management company to look after your rental properties is the smart solution to make sure no detail is missed and all of the important tasks and responsibilities are handled in a timely and professional manner. We have decades of knowledge and experience in the Los Angeles region. We’ve seen all types of fluctuations in the housing market and our staff is well-versed in meeting every challenge that has come and gone in the last twenty years. The rental property industry is fraught with pitfalls that can pose significant risk of loss to landlords big and small. You don’t need to go it alone, call one of our property management experts and let’s discuss how many properties you currently manage and the ways in which we can generate more revenue with them. You may find it’s the best choice for your business.