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Don’t let a Landlord-Tenant Dispute Become a Natural Disaster

shutterstock_171847709Don’t wait until disaster strikes to protect yourself and others from damages. Have a plan in place to prevent landlord-tenant disputes when there is property damage of any kind.  You should take steps to ensure that the lease clearly designates who is responsible for what damages and when.  Both parties should also have insurance when replacements or repairs have to be made. Mind the Lease Lease Termination Landlords should take special care in the rental agreement about terms and conditions for terminating or breaking the lease. This should include stipulations that specify how much advanced notice a tenant must give in order to break the lease and what fees will be incurred if the contract is violated.  Both parties are required by law to provide a 30 day notice that they will be terminating the lease, but you can choose to request a larger time frame in the lease.  Keep in mind that if special circumstances develop on the property, such as a tornado ripping off the roof of the property, the tenant can’t be expected to continue to live in the property.  In such situations that the property is deemed to be untenable, the Landlord must either provide alternative housing for the tenant during the period of repairs or terminate the lease. Damage Repair Replacement and repair for damages are generally isolated for the landlord and the tenant.  The tenant is to be responsible for their own personal belongings inside of their unit.  The landlord is responsible for the upkeep of the physical property inside and out. What if the pro......
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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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Communicating with Prospective Renters in an Email-light World

In the words of one-hit wonder 10cc, “Communication is the problem to the answer.” We’ve gone from dispatching handwritten letters to typing emails; from exchanging text messages to publicly posting tiny, 10-second videos of ourselves wearing digitally affixed dog ears. More ways than ever to communicate and yet getting our message into the right hands for the right response is more difficult than ever.   Since our communication channels are in constant evolution, marketers are continually  refocusing efforts on reaching both prospective and existing renters – particularly the younger millennials (the group born between 1977 and 1995) and Generation Z’ers (the group born between 1995 and 2014).  These generations are checking their email--if they even have email--less often, and they find it to be an outdated method of communication. In fact, you probably won’t find Gen Z’ers – the world’s first generation of true digital natives – looking anywhere other than at a smartphone.   While millennials have already been yielding significant spending influence within the apartment market, Gen Z’ers are beginning to trickle into the workforce and consumer market. They will be the new renters, and it’s crucial to communicate with them in an authentic, visual and real-time way in order to capture their buying power.   ALTERNATIVES TO EMAIL   Text messages These instantaneous private (or even group) messages have become so deeply ingrained within everyday life that in many cases they are replacing phone and face-to-face conversations altogether. Upwards of 15 million texts are sent every minute of every day worldwide, ......
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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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Top 6 Resident Complaints That Will Damage Your Reputation

Author John Green’s book title “The Fault in our Stars” seems fitting to describe the significance of star ratings for prospects scouting the Internet to search for apartments. We know that residents are flocking online to voice their disappointments or favorable experiences at their apartment homes. Research proves that these online conversations affect prospect traffic to your doorstep.   A nationwide survey by J Turner Research involving more than 25,000 residents indicates that 62 percent refer to online ratings and reviews at the beginning of their apartment search. According to a 2016 study, the two most influential aspects of reviews in a prospect’s decision making are star ratings and the relevancy of reviews to their likes and dislikes – relevancy refers to content of the reviews. The number of reviews is a close third.   Are you monitoring the content of your online reviews? Do you know the top complaints echoed by residents on online review sites and ILSs?  In analyzing hundreds of online reviews, below are some key pain points that annoy residents the most.   1.  Racial discrimination – The rhetoric of racial discrimination can damage a business severely. Residents feel victimized due to “perceived” racial discrimination by a specific staff member. Residents also notice how staff members deal with a diverse resident body. If the interaction is not respectful by their standards, the resident may misconstrue it as an act of racial discrimination.   2. Eviction letters/notices - Residents view eviction letters as humiliating and threatening. Sticking eviction letters on thei......
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The One Amenity That Never Goes Out of Style

In the property and hospitality line, there is a constant rush to have the latest and trendiest amenities, from urban staples such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and business lounges – to more recent, trendy options such as creator studios, infrared saunas, and salt rooms. Yet amid all these investments into amenity space, another crucial yet often overlooked amenity is neglected – the service that occurs within these spaces. While creating space is all about size, square footage, and built-up area, service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”. “What’s the difference?” you may ask. Space is simply an area that may be available for use but may be unoccupied. A place is where people go to with a clear intent and purpose in mind – an area used and designated for specific experiences – just like how many cozy coffee shops have turned retail space into a “Third Place” for many people in between work and home. Service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”. Service is what makes the difference between a common noun and a proper noun – a subtle nuance, yes, but isn’t nuance what makes all the difference in tipping a brand’s scale? My partner Amy Blitz and I have worked on numerous amenity consulting projects and one of the first questions we are usually asked is about what kinds of new amenities renters, residents, and guests are looking for. Without hesitation, the first answer on our lips is usually – service. We believe t......
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Setting Expectations and Supporting Your Marketing Team for Success

  As you learned in part one of this two-part series, “Building and Leading a High-Performance Marketing Team,” you need to structure your team for success, building accountability and transparency into the process.   Once you have established the ground rules for your team, you need to be sure that each member contributes to the best of their ability and that everything runs smoothly. This includes recognizing achievements on an individual and team basis, establishing a clear mission and goals for the team, communicating effectively with team members, and creating opportunities for professional development and growth.   Recognition and advancement. You can’t lead a high-performance team without incentivizing performance. If everyone is treated the same regardless of output, you’re going to cultivate a culture of mediocrity. That’s why it’s important to offer strong incentives for high performers.   Verbal recognition in front of the team, division meetings and in front of senior leadership. Give credit where credit is due. Additionally, encourage every team member to recognize their coworkers—it shouldn’t just come from leadership. This recognition builds collaboration and appreciation into your team culture. Offer non-pay incentives, such as extra time off, additional remote working days, happy hours/team events and gifts to reward exceptional performance. Advancement is critical. You’re not going to keep strong performers if you don’t actively grow them into their next role. Every person on your team should have specific career goals. You should know those goals, whether they are short or long term, and you should actively look to advance each......
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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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Building and Leading a High-Performance Marketing Team

The digital age continues to transform the way people consume information and make buying decisions. The traditional way of structuring and leading marketing teams isn’t compatible with this transformation. Organization, staff competencies and project collaboration must evolve to maximize performance and efficiency. In the first half of a two-part series, we will look at how to structure a marketing team for success. In the second half, we will cover how leadership can set expectations and support team members.   Structuring for success. It starts with structure. A lot of marketing teams today are structured around specific channels. For example, you might have someone who is dedicated to PR, another person dedicated to digital or email and third who only works on social. This leads to a lot of silos where team members run into each other rather than working alongside each other to accomplish department goals.   Today’s omnichannel buyer journey requires organization around marketing process. For example, the creation of core pillars for demand generation (revenue-focused messaging; marketing operations, including execution and technology management; and customer experience, including post-sale onboarding, adoption and retention efforts) is a process-driven approach to team organization. Each team is responsible for a part of the marketing process to engage prospective buyers, operationalize messaging across channels to those buyers, and ensure adoption and retention post-sale. All team members can focus but also have insight into the bigger picture. This ensures the team is taking an audience-centric approach so that each initiative is effective at achieving core......
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