This may seem a strange question to ask …but if you stop and think about your overall success with your residents, you have the answer. Does your operation run smoothly or do you continually experience daily chaos and continually put out fires?
To manage and rent property, you must have certain procedures in place – showings, an application, a screening process, a lease, addendums, notices, maintenance, etc. If you prepare or educate your tenants in advance with additional tools, you will reduce the number of problems you experience and increase your office efficiency.
Preparation and education should begin the minute you put a property on the market.
Do you have clear cut instructions on how to see a property, how to apply for a property, and what they need to rent the property? For example, you can just hand out an application, but isn’t it more efficient to provide “application instructions” to accompany the application so the prospect knows what documents they need to submit, how long it can take, what is expected if their application is accepted or denied, etc.? You can even use marketing videos on your website to enhance this task.
It is important to establish from day one that your company has certain expectations and an organized method for doing business. When given the opportunity, a prospective applicant will decide that they will control the property management company and tenant relationship. Instead, you want to be in the driver’s seat.
Once an application is accepted, the leasing process provides the perfect arena for tenant education and can reduce future problems. Think of the documents you can utilize that will set up new residents with your expectations.
A clear and concise rental agreement is a must. Addendums continue the education. The detail in your lease, the nature of the property, and the individual determine what addendums to use, such as a pet agreement, lead-based paint, pool and/or spa, co-signor agreement, check-in/checkout, etc. Whatever you include should be as well-defined as the rental agreement.
Now stop and think…and never assume!
You simply can’t put everything in an application, a rental agreement, or an addendum. You can try but it still doesn’t give your new resident the whole picture. Too often we take the approach that people should “know” what to do or how to live properly. Many residents are still going through “a learning process” or perpetuate bad habits that they developed during childhood or with a prior landlord. Don’t just assume they know what to do or will do it your way.
Additional tools can educate your residents and set up a positive landlord/tenant relationship.
- Leasing videos: now it is possible to begin tenant education by using a video that outlines the expectations and requirements of the rental agreement and addendums.
- Tenant manual: think of the details you can provide that do not fit in a lease or addendum! This is a self-help tool that residents can consult before calling the office for a variety of issues. The possibilities are endless and you can provide this document to them the day they sign the lease.
- Tenant emergency/disaster manual: major calamities such as flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and fire happen often around the country. Give your residents practical assistance on what to do and NOT do if something dire happens.
- Welcome letter: this document can set up a friendly tone while reiterating their prorated rent, the due date, maintenance requests, etc. They can quickly forget what is contained in a lease.
- Tenant website portals: many management companies provide a tenant portal on their site that give residents tools to use during their tenancy, such as work orders, notice to vacate, tenant handbook, and more.
- Tenant move out letter: it is a smart step to remind them of what is expected when they give their notice and what will happen regarding the disposition of their security deposit.
Develop tools and systems to educate and support your residents and avoid the fires. Remember that LandlordSource can help you with these tools through our Property Management Systems for Owners, Tenants, and Vendors product.
Don’t wait – be proactive – save the wear and tear on your office, your staff, and yourself.
Jean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.