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All Things Property Management

All Things Property Management is a one-stop destination for folks interested in learning more about managing real estate. Broken down into a variety of targeted columns, the information that you are looking for is easily accessible — from investing tips and best practices in The Intelligent Investor to the real-life dilemmas of property managers in Stories from the Front Lines. We’ve brought on contributing writers from across the country to share their respective expertise with you, whether you’re a landlord, a professional property manager, or an association board member. Your feedback, participation, and comments will help us deliver the information you need most.

The Value of Tenant Forums

As a property manager, you have a great resource that shouldn’t go untapped right at your fingertips: your tenants. For as well as you know your property, most property managers don’t actually live on-site. Because of this, your tenants are more qualified than anyone else to provide insights into potentially beneficial changes, improvements, and upgrades that can make your property more appealing—and perhaps even more valuable.

You can solicit information from tenants in a number of ways: through an old-fashioned suggestion box either on-site or at your property management office, through an online form, or through a questionnaire for tenants to fill out upon move-out (or at any other point during their residency at your property, for that matter).

In addition to all this, when it comes to encouraging tenants to share their thoughts and suggestions, property managers may want to consider taking a cue from condo associations. Hosting forums on an annual or bi-annual basis for tenants to submit ideas for changes and/or to vote on potential changes you are considering rolling out at your property is a great way to not only receive important feedback, but also to bring tenants together to brainstorm and share ideas that you may have never even considered.

Though you have the ultimate say about what does or does not happen at your rental property, receiving this sort of organic feedback can lead you in the right direction, providing a lot of insight into what tenants do and do not want to see happen at your property. You can learn more about what’s working and what’s not. Not only this, but opening the floor up to tenant opinions also provides them with a sense of community and “ownership” of the property. Fostering this sort of intangible connection between tenants and your property can have a significant positive effect on vacancy rates. After all, happy, invested tenants are far more likely to feel “at home” and, consequently, less likely to look for new housing situations.

If you do opt to host a tenant forum, be sure to clearly publicize the event so that all tenants are aware it’s happening. Post notices around your property or hand out fliers, distributing them to tenant mailboxes or directly to their door. If at all possible, host the forum in a common area on-site so that it’s easy for everyone to attend. Pick a time when most people are likely to be home, most likely in the evening Monday through Thursday.

To maximize the effectiveness of the forum, encourage tenants to share their thoughts by fostering an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and speaking freely. Though you may not be able to incorporate every idea they have, even unworkable suggestions may ultimately plant the seed for a solution or improvement you never would have thought of otherwise.

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I really like this, but it must coincide with an entire shift in how the community operates and reacts to feedback. Far too many companies opt to seclude their residents for fear of them all starting to complain together. But really, that's just a function of self esteem, really! It just means that the company/community doesn't have faith in it's own product/service. If a company fundamentally doesn't have the proper mindset, this is probably a bad idea. But if it takes the path of Dominoes, for example, and becomes much more transparent and adaptive, then I think it's a fantastic idea!

  Brent Williams

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