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Help! My Tenant Needs to Break Their Lease

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA It was just a few months ago when the tenants were in the office signing the one year lease agreement. The leasing agent followed the office procedures and made sure to review the lease terms and obligations prior to asking for binding signatures. Then with the swipe of a pen the property was considered off the market and occupied for the year. So, it can be somewhat frustrating when two months later you receive the dreaded call from the tenants stating that for some unforeseen reason they need to move out of the property earlier than expected, consequently breaking their lease agreement. As a property management expert, and owner of San Diego Premier Property Management, I’ve had the opportunity to prepare, execute, and negotiate lease agreements for the better part of a decade, and I can say with all honesty that this scenario happens on a regular basis to the most qualified of tenants. Whether the breach occurs one month or six months into the one year lease agreement it is important to understand that the lease agreement, and the terms agreed upon and signed by both parties constitute a legally binding contract that when breached can carry monetary and legal consequences toward the tenant. With that said, the situation doesn’t have to escalate to a legal issue since it can be mitigated to the benefit of both parties. If the lease has an opt out clause then advise the......
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Effective Communication is Key

Keys to the communication kingdom are sometimes hard to grasp.  Nothing in business is more important than communication.  You can have the best plans, the greatest ideas, but if you don’t have effective communication, your results won’t be stellar.  I recently received an email from a property manager sharing with me her response to a resident about an issue where the resident wasn’t clearly informed, and I quote, “I let her know (the resident) that we have a web site and a face book fan page, I also let her know we send out newsletters every month on top of crime watch meetings. She does not want a computer at home, she said that the newsletters are a waste of good paper and she doesn’t have time to attend any kind of meeting. Aside from staying after work and waiting for her to get home, I do not know how she would like us to communicate with her”. This is definitely a tough nut to crack, so, how is a property manager supposed to communicate with someone who doesn’t utilize technology? How about going low tech, a notice laminated and posted at the mail box kiosk, everyone gets mail and has to pick it up at some point, and of course there is the laundry area, there is usually always a bulletin board for postings there.  Did we ever ask the resident how she would like to be communicated with? I think in this age of new technology, we forget about......
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Telling Tall Tales; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

When recently asked about which skill I felt was the most important for a real estate developer to possess, I was stumped for about thirty seconds (which is an eternity when someone is staring at you and waiting). My mind raced. How could I not just rattle-off something well thought out and brilliant? Shouldn’t this be a question that every developer must be able to answer without flinching? Well- I flinched. But at the end of that short eternity, my answer was ‘They must be great storytellers.’    I say this for one simple reason: At his most basic level, the developer is a master salesman. We sell our visions and dreams to our investment committees, the communities in which we work, municipalities, equity partners and debt providers, and eventually to the end user.   So what makes someone a great storyteller?   1.       VALUES. More specifically, understanding what your audience values. Unlike a Dr. Seuss fairytale, the developers’ story is intended to illicit a response. It is designed to excite and sway the audience to allow us to build, help the designers understand our vision, invest in our project, lease or purchase from us, etc.  Our story will only connect with the listener if it appeals to what they value. For instance, telling a County Commissioner about how much money you stand to make will not excite them…hearing that same story, your equity partner will be quite pleased. 2.       FOCUS. A good storyteller understands that they are only providing a framework......
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Lessons Your Community Can Learn from Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but once again the occasion raised the question; is it a day full of love and romance, or simply an over-glamorized “Hallmark” holiday? During the week of the fourteenth, the topic of Valentine’s took over social media platforms everywhere, as an inundation of tweets and posts told the tale of two hearts, one positive and one negative. As “#HappyValentine’sDay” was a trending topic on Twitter, “#Happytobesingle” followed close behind from those who were not as enthused. Whether the array of red and pink decor, flower bouquets and chocolate heart boxes leave you feeling tickled pink or filled with anxiety and despair, Valentine’s Day still provides some informative takeaways for your business.   1. Don’t limit your gestures to special occasions, spread the love year-round.Although holidays are an appropriate opportunity to show someone you care, provide gifts to family and friends and maybe partake in the annual mingling with relatives, these kind gestures ought to become habit all year long—and your marketing efforts should follow suit. Building relationships and engaging with residents must be an ongoing occurrence, especially in your social media interactions. Share the love each day by setting aside time to interact with residents through social media.   2. Spice things up.Monotony and routine have no place on Valentine’s Day, nor should they appear in your marketing. Keep residents involved and engaged by using different communications outlets and messages. Explore new ways to attract residents while also adding value for current renters. Have you ......
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4 Secrets for Success: Building Your Community on Facebook

SuccessAs we look back on 2011, many would classify it as the year that social media finally reached critical mass. Facebook alone amassed more than 800 million users worldwide, and with so many of your residents’ conversations now taking place on Facebook, it’s important that your community has a thriving presence there. Hectic schedules and occasional bouts of writers block impact us all, but remember the words of wisdom below, and you’ll be able to create a vibrant community as you manage your Facebook page with consistency. Secret #1: Setting Goals is the Foundation for SuccessOk, so this probably isn’t the best-kept secret, but setting goals is critical for Facebook success. And you’d be surprised at how few businesses do this well. It’s all too easy to simply make the occasional post to Facebook and call it a day. Setting goals help you avoid the Facebook graveyard – a page with no activity, few interactions and limited engagement with fans. At a minimum, set these two goals: (1) Get 100 percent of your residents who are on Facebook to “like” your page. Sure, it’s aggressive. But having involved residents is ultimately the reason why you’re even on Facebook.  Engaged fans are great for business. (2) Set goals for communicating with your residents at least once per day about topics that aren’t sales- or marketing-related. It can be as simple as letting residents know that the trees are being trimmed on Saturday, and parking will be limited. Having informative conversations creates a......
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How To Handle An Abandoned Property

By Carla Toebe, New Century Realty, Kennewick, WA They say that abandonment is a landlord’s or property manager's worst nightmare when dealing with a tenant. How do you know it is really abandonment? Sometimes it’s obvious when everything is gone, the place seems perfectly empty, and the tenant's keys are lying on the counter. But what if the place is full of furniture, the food is still in the cupboard, and you can't get a hold of them? They haven't paid their rent, they haven't returned your phone calls, no one has seen them, and you can't get a hold of anyone on the emergency contact form you had them complete when they moved in. Surely this means they must have abandoned the place. So you change the locks, and uh-oh! There they are coming back claiming you have now burglarized their place. Oh no! This can't be, they clearly abandoned the place and you took all the steps you had to take that were required by law. Maybe it isn't that clear cut. Maybe a tenant still has some rights. Now you are facing penalties, a criminal investigation, and a whole slew of troubles you never knew you had. Let's back up and figure out how to determine that this is really abandonment and you have the right to take possession of your unit. You spelled out what abandonment was with your tenant and you had it written in the lease, right? Good, well at least you tried to get......
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Social Media: Managing the Dark Side

FB Logo with Bullet HoleBetty’s a self-described ‘old-timer’. She has been through more up-and-down economic cycles than she would care to number. "Happy Days are here again!" she told me. "But you know, it doesn’t last." Way to kill the mood, Betty. She is right. Cycles are called cycles because they keep coming around. In most of the markets I visit times are good. Vacancy is down; rents are being pushed. It is time to seize the day! Increase rents, pump increased revenues back to your profit-starved investors and make those long-deferred capital improvements. However, now is the time to put on your Leader Cap: your job is to take the long-range view. What are the potential outcomes of our current management behaviors? First, review economic reality: Homeless - According to the MBA National Delinquency Survey, 4,296,018 homes were foreclosed, sold in a short sale or the mortgage was over 90-days delinquent in 2011. Of these, 1,445,000 houses were lost due to foreclosure or short sales. Each of these people moved in with friends or family, are in a shelter, living in their car or are your new residents. Unemployed / Underemployed - Bloomberg reports that while the unemployment rate is dropping (down to 8.3% in January, 2012), underemployment is hovering around 17%. These are folks who are working well below their potential. No Cushion – MSN Careers says that 42% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck while Economicrot puts the figure at a staggering 77%. Either way, there are a lot of people whose economic......
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Who Stole My "Community?"; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

No matter what our role is within the multi-family industry, there is always one word which is used more than any other; “community.” Some of us own communities, some of us develop communities, some of us design communities and others of us lease or operate them. And chances are that many of us live in an apartment, condominium or townhome community as well. So then why is it that there is so little ‘community’ in our communities? When it comes down to this failure’s root cause, it can really only be one of two choices; a.       Either the management team does not expend their energies in a manner that creates a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere that encourages interaction, or b.      The developer did not guide the design in a manner that supports congregation. Now because I am an owner and developer by trade and not a manager, my expertise is limited when it comes to the nuance of property management. I am positive that I undervalue the challenges of those on the front lines. But where I do have some insights is on the development side of the industry. I have mentioned in multiple other essays that the developer has become effectively a highly functioning project manager. We have lost our intellectual curiosity about how folks ‘actually’ live. We have lessened our study of the ways that neighborhoods, communities and cities are formed, only to concentrate on sharpening our excel acumen and expand our address book of consultants. Instead, we generally......
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The Price of Engagement

And I'm not talking the married kind of engagement. (although that can be pretty pricey too)

I'm talking the price of engagement in regards to social media. I was not a bandwagon social media user. I wanted to understand how to engage and converse with our residents and potential residents before I jumped on the social media train. I also wanted to understand how to measure engagement and then translate that to value for our clients. 

For me, the  issue with social media is not the time it takes to post, blog or tweet, the issue is engagement. Are you maximizing on opportunities of engagement? Are you talking at your residents and prospects are talking with them? Having thousands of fans or followers are great but what are you doing with them?

What gives you the best engagement bang for you buck? I have included my top three.


Posting and tweeting are a marathon, not a race. If you clog up their news feed, they are sure to unfollow or unsubscribe. Studies show a post every 3-4 hours is the sweet spot.


Are you looking at your insights page? Your insights page has a wealth of information and demographics. Use that to your advantage when posting. 


Look at your most successful post (in terms of likes, comments, impressions, re-tweets, etc) and figure out your feedback score. For the posts with the highest feedback percentage, do you see a pattern of posts people engage with most... sports, fashion, decorating ideas? 

I benchmark everything. As a Director of Marketing, making sure my marketing team's time is well spent requires just that, benchmarking everything. Have we figured out the secret formula to social media, engagement and ROI.. not yet but I'm working on it. :-)

Happy posting!


Sparkle Hammond, M.Ed.  First Communities | Director of Marketing
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.century-apartments.com | www.facebook.com/centuryapartmenthomes

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A Resident's Expectations

By Steven Van Zile, Total Management, New York, NY Within the past 24 hours, here are the maintenance issues I’ve experienced at the property where I reside: the maintenance person, loyal to this building for 33 years, responds to a clogged toilet by advising us to pour bleach down the toilet. Concurrently, the intercom buzzer is stuck and won’t shut off. And, of course, the elevator renovation that started out as a one week project actually turned into a three week project, providing 6th floor tenants the opportunity to save money by cancelling their gym memberships. It’s always seemed simple to me; as residents, we pay rent, maintenance fees, or mortgage payments and the property management staff provide services for the resident. Building and trust owners hire those property managers based on their abilities to keep churn rates low, vacancy at zero, and tenants happy all at or below a budget designed to re-invest in the property. So what happens when we tenants aren’t happy? Well, in today’s age of instant knowledge and access, a lot of renters turn to rating sites like Yelp or apartmentratings.com to spitefully pen scathing reviews in an attempt warn others. These sites might be seen as a threat, but if you’re really good at your job, more transparency can only help you, and reviews will actually help your business grow. Let’s get back to the problems at hand. In the three examples I highlighted earlier, the correct response would have been to snake the toilet, send......
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