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The Americans with Disabilities Act for Landlords And Property Managers

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as “ADA” is a federal civil-rights law protecting the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA places guidelines for access to: Employment State and local government programs, services and buildings Access to places of public accommodation such as businesses, transportation, and non-profit service providers Telecommunications George Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; standing left to right Reverend Harold Wilkie, Sandra Parrino of the National Council on Disability; seated left to right, Evan Kemp, Chairman of the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, George Bush, Justin Dart, Chairman of the ‘s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Washington DC, USA, 26 July 1990. (Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images). The scope of the law is fairly broad and addresses many of the obstacles affecting the participation of people with disabilities within society. Many of the ADA’s civil rights protections parallel the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the protections it established for racial, religious minorities and women. Occasionally, management companies may be faced with a lawsuit for non-compliance with ADA laws.  These compliance problems are usually preventable as many times they result from violations which stem from the lack of proper guidelines, policies, procedures, and/or practices regarding accessibility. Implementing current policies can go a long way toward avoiding the expense associated with ADA lawsuits. As owners, landlords, managers, and tenants can be jointly and severally liable in the event of non-compliance. Making it important to ensure you have safe practices in place to address......
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How to Stand Out to Potential Renters

According to a CNBC article posted in June, renters are avoiding buying because home prices are soaring. In fact, only 52 percent of renters surveyed by the National Association of Realtors quarterly report stated that they feel now is a good time to buy a home – this is down from 62 percent a year ago. With renters on the rise, property managers need to constantly be prepared for an individual to move out. When a current renter decides to move out, it’s standard practice to provide property managers and owners with a 30-day notice. And as property managers prepare for the renter transition, it’s critical to emphasize the unit and building amenities, and even take the time and resources to make updates when possible. Marketing a vacant unit in a multi-family complex is integral to filling the property within a reasonable timeframe. When a rental property is vacant, it costs money for every day it sits empty. Therefore, it’s important to reduce that time between qualified, paying renters to the bare minimum. No matter what tactic property managers use to market vacant rental properties, there are a couple things that will maximize the impact of their outreach efforts. On one hand, marketing the unit and building is crucial to standing out. Everything about the rental property – from the outside of the building to the front door and the interior – needs to be attractive and look rent-ready. While writing enticing copy for a listing, include all the features and updates of the unit......
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Is the Multifamily Industry Still Missing Out on Marketing Opportunities?

In 2014, we partnered with On-Site to release a study that focused on how effectively multifamily operators were utilizing email marketing. Three years later, we revisited the study to see what, if anything, has changed.   The initial 2014 study surveyed online responses from 31 different communities. The communities represented a wide range of companies—public and private, national and regional, owner/operator, fee manager (and mixed), with an equal distribution of geographic locations. We made contact with the various communities through their company website (not through apartment marketing sites) and requested information about a one bedroom one bathroom apartment.  If required, we asked for a move-in date one month from our inquiry date, and specified a 12-month lease. We intentionally did not give a phone number so that we would experience how operators responded through online means exclusively. In our 2017 research, we replicated the study using the same methodology and included the same companies. We generated 31 leads online, using the same set of operators as in 2014. We contacted one community per operator, however, this time we also filled in a phone number to measure phone, as well as email response. In 2014 we saw varying response times after the lead was submitted. Most of the responses that we received came the same day, which impressed us, and a few came in too late to be meaningful. We were disappointed in the number of operators who did not respond to our inquiry at all, but there was some good news in that t......
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Not All Tenant Screening is Created Equally

You can’t always predict who will be a good tenant, but past behavior often indicates future behavior. Whether you’re a landlord, a property manager, or a real estate agent, you should be doing everything in your power to protect yourself from the hassle of dealing with bad tenants and bringing unwanted tenants into your community as they can be can be both time-consuming and financially destructive. Tenant screening can be handled in a few different ways, and one screening process is not always as successful as another. Making your decision solely on price can be a mistake, as many companies bypass certain steps in order to keep prices low. Here are some things you should know before deciding how to handle screening in the future.   Many companies advertise no on-site inspection for their tenant screening; however, you should know that these inspections are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. While these companies can offer some valuable information about your tenant’s past, they are not providing full credit reports. Instead, these companies access public data to compile an independent score that only partially represents your tenant’s history. These companies tend to offer the cheapest prices, but at the expense of legality and comprehensive information. Many companies require the tenant to initiate the transaction. While this practice isn’t inherently problematic, it can cause certain problems. For one, because it requires tenant initiation, time can become an issue. In this scenario, the property manager loses some of the control. In some instances it also prevents ......
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6 Indicators that it's Time for a Pricing Health Checkup

6 Indicators that it's Time for a Pricing Health CheckupModern pricing strategies and revenue management systems have had a tremendous impact on the performance of multifamily owners and operators. While systems like LRO and Yieldstar are quite robust and continuously improved, they are not infallible on their own. In fact, the flexibility they give operators to implement a range of strategies means that users need to review and modify settings as market conditions and strategies change. Forward-thinking and high-performing property management companies realize that, as with any system, a routine assessment or checkup is a powerful tool. Inevitably when you look at your pricing and revenue management system in depth, you find areas of meaningful improvement. Here are six indicators that the time has come for a pricing health checkup: 1. Large Occupancy and/or Price Swings If you see that your occupancy is spiking up and then spiking down, either your system may be configured wrong or there may be something about how you're executing the use of the system that needs to be looked at. This could be caused by a variety of factors, including overrides or lack of compliance with the revenue management system’s pricing. The whole point of a revenue management system is to have much more stable occupancy and steady revenue per unit growth, so if you see volatility in occupancy or revenue per unit, that means you're getting the opposite results from what the system is supposed to be delivering. If you see an occupancy drop of a point or a point and a half in a s......
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Get Ready Multifamily, It's Time for Generation Z

Yes, it’s true. . . just when we were getting the hang of Millennials, Generation Z is upon us. To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the multifamily industry is the broad range of our clientele across the generations. Where else do you serve such a diverse group of target customers with something so personal and primal as the very home and community in which they live? With each new generation we face the challenge of blending what is important to the current generations we serve while simultaneously renewing our physical product and supporting services to attract and appeal to the new generation coming of age. Recently, I’ve spent some time researching the various statistics and opinions of what makes Generation Z unique and how that is expected to influence their behavior as consumers in the future. To that end, I offer the following few simple thoughts and takeaways of what it means for our industry to begin preparing now for what is to come. There are varying statistical references as to the precise makeup and definition of Generation Z. For the most part, it is agreed Gen Z consists of all those born in 1995 and thereafter. According to Forbes in 2015, this generation made up 25% of the U.S. population. They contribute an estimated excess of $44 billion to the economy and are further expected to grow to a full third of the U. S. population by 2020. This makes them a larger generation than both the Millennials and the Baby Boomers before them. As the first of Gen......
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LEASING TIPS AND DON'T FORGET TO FOLLOW UP!

LEASING TIPS AND DON'T FORGET TO FOLLOW UP!
  Leasing Tips & How To Follow Up’s: With so many online, social media, and other software’s out there now, how do you keep up with it all? Start out by keeping an inbox folder on your email identified as Online Leads. You will have all ILS and email leads centralized for reference if needed. One of the largest parts of your online presence will be how and where your community is presented. The largest part of your leasing tool kit is your People, Product, and Perception. Even down to the vendor who hosted a resident or staff party or luncheon.  You get your leads via email, or by looking on your ILS sites. First things first, enter them into your system. Don't wait!!! Again, I repeat DON'T WAIT! Enter them as a prospect by their online or email requests you will potentially know what their name is, their email, phone number, what size apartment they are looking for in addition to their price range. If their phone number is listed, guess what… they want you to call them! Call them from your office phone and not your cell. It takes out the confusion and prevents liabilities.    Smile when You Dial!  Smiling when you are dialing a phone number or answering a call, puts you in the mood to consult! Smile when you dial that phone number. At this point your greatest priority is to schedule a time for the prospective resident to see your community! Remember you are in control of th......
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Information Changes

Assessing the true risk of a lease applicant could become slightly more challenging for apartment operators this summer. On July 1, the three credit bureaus — Experian®, TransUnion and Equifax — stopped including a number of civil judgments and tax liens in their credit reports. While the overall impact on credit scores may prove to be modest, the changes to the reports are yet another reminder of the importance of a wide-ranging and comprehensive screening process. “When I’m renting an apartment, I want to take the best applicant — someone who is going to honor the lease obligation first,” said Michael Johnson, executive vice president at Memphis, Tenn.–based Alco Management. “That’s why operators need to incorporate a range of screening methods.” New CalculationsThe recent changes stem from concerns about insufficient identification information in credit reports, according to the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), which represents the three credit bureaus. Under the new standards, tax liens and civil judgments, such as evictions, are excluded from credit reports if their resultant public records don’t include the consumer’s name, address, and either a Social Security number or a date of birth. Additionally, entries on the liens and judgments were removed from credit reports if the public court records didn't check for updates at least every 90 days. According to the CDIA, the changes will not impact creditors’ ability to rely on credit reports. “Analyses conducted by the credit reporting agencies and credit score developers FICO and VantageScore show only modest credit scoring impacts and impact to predictive perform......
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A Tenant Signs the Lease and then Vanishes. What do you do?

The prospective tenant passed your background check, they were very welcoming in the showing, and really everything looked great when you signed the lease.  But then when move-in day comes, nothing happens.  The tenant is nowhere to be found.  Plans can change on a dime.  Below are suggestions on handling and preventing cases like these. Procedure: If you have already signed a lease with a tenant, it is a binding contract and you must go through the same legal process as any other tenant. This will be a unique circumstance since the tenant is not presently occupying the unit and may not see the notice on the door.  Post the notice there anyways.  You don’t know if the tenant will return or not.  You as the landlord need to make every attempt to clearly communicate the 3-day notice to pay rent or quit.  This means not only posting a notice on the door of the property, but also emailing, making phone calls, and any other possible form of communication you have at your disposal.  After this period of time, and you have established that the unit is vacant, you then will be able to go back to putting the unit on the market. Can I enter the property to check that the tenant is there? You must first provide a 24 hour notice before entering a unit.  This will simply extend the timeline to getting the unit filled with a paying tenant. If you haven’t received the rent payment on the day it was due......
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"And here is the apartment..." - Avoiding the Prospect Tour That Falls Flat

If you have shopped enough apartment communities, you will find some leasing consultants who take a "self service" attitude to showing the model apartment to a prospect.  They open the door, announce that "this is the apartment", and then just watch the prospect as he or she walks from room to room.  They expect the apartment to sell the prospect, not themselves, and it often leaves the tour feeling flat and uninspiring. Conversely, today I went to one of my favorite Starbucks, and saw a great example of the complete opposite of the "self service" sale!  It was just a few days removed from Hurricane Harvey, and they were running out of food, as they hadn't had a new shipment of supplies.  One of the customers came up, asked for something that they didn't have, and that's when the barista did something great.  Standing over the food case, he could have easily said that they were out of most things, and then point to the half empty case in front of him.  In fact, I would bet 90% of baristas would have just done the pointing technique and waited for the customer to decide.  But he didn't do that - he instead talked through all of the options available in front of him, taking the time to connect with the customer rather than simply waiting for the sale. That's the difference between an average salesperson and a great one - taking that extra step to make the sale, rather than waiting......
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