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Key Clauses You Cannot Afford To Exclude From Your Rental Agreement

Key Clauses You Cannot Afford To Exclude From Your Rental Agreement
A decreasing rental vacancy rate combined with an increasing median monthly gross residential rent in the US real estate market, is progressively creating a favorable environment for rental property owners. According to the Census ACS survey, the median gross rent, as of 2014, stood at $934 with an average of $992- up from $903 and $960 respectively, the previous year. Going by these numbers, rental property owners are undoubtedly making more than they did in 2008, right before the recession- back when they grossed in a median of $924 at an average of $974 per month. With such a great market, the only thing that could stand in your way of effectually monetizing your property is a poorly drafted rental agreement. Although a piece of paper may seem negligible at first, it could ultimately make a great difference between making and losing money. We’ve seen many frustrated landlords lose cases in court just because of simple omissions in their respective lease agreements. Even with a comprehensive tenant screening framework, landlord-tenant disputes can potentially develop down the road. Your tenants, for instance, could fail to honor their rent payments- and consequently, as most landlords would presume, terminate their tenure. Fortunately or unfortunately, tenures are not simply terminated by presumptuous terms. All the terms need to be laid out clearly and explicitly in your rental agreement. To aid you in the process of drafting one, here are the most critical clauses you cannot afford to exclude from your rental agreements:  Right to Entry Gaining e......
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4 Things Apartment Maintenance Know That Property Managers Don’t

Archstone Apartment in GainesvilleWhenever something happens in a tenant’s apartment, they put in a service request or contact the maintenance department. Access to a professional, experienced maintenance team is one of the primary benefits of renting an apartment. Many renters have great relationships with the leasing team and property managers at the apartment complexes where they live, but they often have an even better relationship with the maintenance technicians that come into their apartments to make repairs and perform preventative maintenance. The conversations that occur while the maintenance tech is within the apartment can directly and indirectly give the tech a lot of information that the leasing team might never know— but might really need. Maintenance techs often see things that the leasing team does not, and these things can make a big impact on the success of your team. Here are four things maintenance techs often know from visiting apartments: 1. Which Apartments Have Unauthorized Pets Some apartment complexes have a no pet policy due to possible damages, allergy concerns, and noise problems. In other cases, pets might be allowed with a pet deposit. In both cases, tenants may attempt to have an unauthorized dog or cat in the unit without signing the required paperwork or paying the required fees. It may seem easy to sneak in a pet since the apartment managers aren’t in the apartments, but as soon as a maintenance tech is needed, they’ll be sure to be the first to notice that there is a pet. At Ashton Lane apartment......
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Multifamily Properties vs. Termite Swarming

Multifamily Properties vs. Termite Swarming
It's almost May. And, while that makes many people think of Mother's Day and the end of the school year, to the average multifamily property owner, it's a time of anxiety. To them, the month of May signals the beginning of termite swarm season. From May to June of every year, the likelihood of a termite infestation increases as winged kings and queens meet, mate and start new colonies. Of course, the more wood, the greater the possibility; and that's a big risk for multifamily properties. What It Is Termites101.org describes swarming as follows: "The combination of warm temperatures and rain in the spring leads swarmers to leave the nest in large numbers by flying through mud tubes, which are specially constructed tunnels for the termites to use to exit the colony. Termites continue to swarm throughout the warm season, although these swarms are less frequent than those during the spring. Colonies normally swarm only once per season, but may swarm multiple times. Later swarms generally do not match the intensity of the first swarm." How to Spot’em So, how do you know you have a termite issue? The following are five tell-tale signs: Mud tubes—A rather obvious sign, termites tend to leave behind pencil-size tunnels to and away from their nests. These tubes can be easily seen leading up from the soil and into the building structure. Hollow-sounding wood. Because they are devouring the wood’s insides, it will quickly take on a hollow sound. Cracked or distorted paint. Seen as an ea......
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Spring Marketing Checklist To Get in Shape for Leasing Season

Spring Marketing Checklist To Get in Shape for Leasing Season
The woes of winter and slower traffic will soon be a distant memory.  Are you ready for the sudden switch to spring and a groundswell of traffic?  If not, these 10 tips on this Spring Marketing Checklist will help you get in shape for leasing season! Time for a fresh face!  Schedule new photos!  Right about the time the grounds contractor is taking the pansies out they look their very best!  That’s about the same time that the skies are crystal blue, the summer haze has not set in, and leaves on trees are multiple shades of green, rather than dark summer shades.  Schedule new photos with all your vendors at that time, or if it’s in the budget, get professional photos made.  Switch out photos in all your ads and internet listings.   Paint your office!  Consider new flooring also!  Often your Carpet Vendor Partner will install carpet at a discount in your office if you have done significant business with that vendor the previous year.  Sometimes the painter will too.  If not, do it anyway! Freshen up signage.  Clean off any mildew and cobwebs that have settled in over the winter.  If it’s a painted sign, repaint it in fresh colors.  One Maintenance Supervisor replaced rotting wood posts and repainted all the property signs in brighter colors, saving the property over $1,000 in budgeted sign replacement dollars! Print new guest cards in a spring color.  Prior to printing, ask your staff if new sources should be added or other chang......
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Carbon Copy Paper Cuts

Carbon Copy Paper Cuts
The millennial generation may not even realize “CC” on an email actually stands for “Carbon Copy,” let alone have ever put their hands on an actual carbon copy piece of paper. So why are maintenance work orders still managed on these paper forms? If you’re reading this and you think that you’ve upgraded your process just because you got rid of those old white, yellow, pink forms a long time ago, think again. My guess is the replacement is simply printer paper, still not quite the ultimate solution we are looking for. In today’s technology landscape, so much focus is being placed on pushing residents towards paperless payments, completing applications online, and signing leases electronically, but what about maintenance? Isn’t there an app for that? Why are we still using carbon copy paper or printed service requests? Most apartment community websites now have forms for residents to enter their service requests electronically. However, some of them simply send an email which is then printed out. Worse yet the request goes into an online system to track the work, but the very first thing the leasing office does when it's received is print it. In my opinion, the persona of the typical maintenance team member might be playing a factor in resistance. These individuals work with their hands and prefer tangible problems they can fix. They are attached to the idea of tearing off the pink copy (that's the one they give to the resident, right?) of the form and leaving it behind as a show of “my w......
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Rising Above the Giants

Rising Above the Giants
Do you remember where you were at 3:50am on Wednesday, September 27, 20001? Like me, you were probably in bed fast asleep. Yet at that exact moment, history was being made on the other side of the world in the Sydney Summer Olympics. Rulon Gardner had just defeated the invincible Alexander Karelin of Russia to take home gold in the Greco-Roman super heavyweight division. Prior to that match, Karelin had never lost in his 15 years of international competition. He had won three consecutive Olympic gold medals and seven consecutive world titles. By all accounts, this giant of a man was the crème de la crème in the sport of wrestling. So how did Gardner, a farm boy from Afton, Wyoming who never even captured a NCAA title, who had sustained a broken neck from the same foe in a contest years before, pull off the impossible that September day? When asked that same question, Gardner said, “ I knew I was strong enough and quick enough to stop his lift...when you work the farm, you never stop to take a break." So in a nutshell, there’s the secret sauce to his success: strength, speed, and stamina. Now let’s flash forward to the year 2012. I had just started my first job out of college, working for the leading partner of a prolific ERP software company. On the daily, I had the opportunity to work closely with this figurative giant, witnessing as it regularly trounced its smaller opponents in the sales arena. In terms of history and size, i......
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If it goes missing…6 Simple Steps to Avoid the “Maintenance Took It” Syndrome

If it goes missing…6 Simple Steps to Avoid the “Maintenance Took It” Syndrome
No one actually loses anything anymore.  Maintenance took it. So if you can’t find your gold ring that you KNOW you left right on the table, it can’t be your memory or that you misplaced it.  Or if you are a beer short in your refrigerator, it can’t be that your teenager sneaked it while you were out.  Or if you left change on your dresser and it’s gone, or if the blinds are moved, or any other of a list of other things, it has to be that Maintenance did it.  I even remember one resident who stopped up her commode late one night, and then fussed at me because Ben (SUPER Maintenance Supervisor) supposedly used her towels to clean up the after-hours overflow.  It was actually towels he brought to the scene of the crime, and she neglected to apologize for accusing Ben.  Our maintenance team is so vulnerable, so it’s important to hire well, train well, and then protect your maintenance team from accusation.  Some ways Maintenance Professionals can do that are: ·       Keep track of any keys to apartment homes that leave the office and when they are returned ·       Document how long you are in the apartment on a particular work request ·       Don’t go in any part of the home you don’t need to ·       Don’t move anything you don’t need to ·       Always put a “Maintenance Is here” door hanger on the door handle while you’re inside ·       Leave the resident  a clear description of what work was completed, a......
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The “Eyes” in Team: Tips for Increasing Collaboration Between the Leasing and Maintenance Teams

The saying goes that there is no “I” in team, and this is true. Putting me, myself, and I first is the very antithesis of teamwork. When collaboration goes awry at multifamily communities, however, the problem typically is NOT that employees are looking out for number one. Instead, a look at many communities will reveal associates working hard to create homes for residents. When inefficiency and friction occur, it is more frequently due to a split into two competing groups. If the leasing and maintenance teams operate as “us vs. them” rather than as parts of a cohesive whole, everyone suffers. If a leasing vs. maintenance dichotomy is dragging you down, adding “eyes” to the team can help promote a whole-community approach to collaboration. 1. See things from a different perspective. It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind. Imagine: a Leasing Consultant is in the midst of a hectic, stressful day when the phone rings. An irritated resident is on the other line. “My hot water doesn’t work!” she says.  The Leasing Consultant could respond, “I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ll have our Maintenance Supervisor go over right away.” This response momentarily appeases the resident and lets the Leasing Consultant get back to work. Purely from her perspective, all is well. After all, she’s not in maintenance. What else could she have done?  She could have started by considering the Maintenance Supervisor’s position. By not asking any follow-up questions, he has no idea what he might be walking into. Does the resident......
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Maintain to Retain

Maintain to Retain
Renewal rates continue to climb upward1, but there are still many enticing options out there for renters to consider as their lease term comes to an end. New trends in the multifamily market are raising the bar on what an apartment can offer. Amenities are becoming more crucial, as is the involvement and connection between tenants and staff. When it comes time for a resident to decide whether or not to renew their existing lease, you need to remind them why they want to stay, and you can do that quite easily with some tools you already have on hand: Your onsite employees. Your property's greatest asset in resident retention is in the personnel who help run things day-to-day, and no group stands to have a bigger impact on tenant satisfaction than the maintenance team.  You’ve hired the best folks to care for and maintain your property and its residents, so why not capitalize on it?  Here are some tips to incorporate your maintenance staff in your renewal goals to help incentivize your residents to sign a new lease. Communication Comes First Start by making your maintenance staff a part of resident retention efforts from day one. Introduce prospects and new tenants to the crew, give background on how long they've been caring for the property, and make sure they know that you are always there to respond to their needs. Online services for work order submission and resident information can help keep the lines of communication open after move-in day. Be T......
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A Life of Luxury

A Life of Luxury
I love apartment shopping, even if I’m not in the market for a new apartment. I will spend hours on end searching the web for beautiful complexes that are popping up in places like San Francisco, New York City, Miami—basically any city you can think of that requires you to spend at least $5K or more for a one bedroom apartment. But here’s the kick: at the end of the day, most people are not looking to strap on a couple extra grand a month for an ornate living room. They are looking for the little conveniences that make life easier. They are looking for a community that makes them feel as though they are living a life of luxury. As an apartment community, you can provide these conveniences through your services. You don’t have to be the newest kid on the block, you just need to be the smartest. Here’s how you can do just that: Paperless Payments- Paying your rent can be the easiest or biggest hassle of your residents’ week. If you want to make things easy for both your residents and your staff, offer a payment portal for people to pay their rent online. If you want to take it to the next level, go completely paperless. Your leasing office literally can’t lose anything because it is all online - just make sure you are using a software provider that offers industry grade encryption to protect your data. And the cherry on top - your leasing office will look pretty sleek with th......
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