Let’s face it…it takes time and planning to put any manual into place for your property management business. Even when you use a time saving product such as the LandlordSource Policy and Procedures Manual for Property Management to complete this task, it still work. Once you completed the manual, you and your staff probably breathed a huge sigh of relief! At this point, you probably did not want to even THINK about updating it periodically.
The New Year is an excellent time to identify the steps needed to keep manuals updated. Doing this will help you maintain the integrity of your manuals and protect your company. Regularly reviewing and updating manuals will ultimately save you time…it is much easier to add updates periodically than to make it a major project!
Why Should You Update Your Property Management Manuals?
You may think updating manuals is unnecessary. After all, you put the manuals together with all of your current policies, practices, and procedures. The key word here is current. As they say, “all things change” and your business generally experiences changes – some small, some more dramatic. If you do not change your policy and procedures manuals to reflect the updates in your business, this could cause problems and even lead to litigation.
Here are some examples:
- You listed the basic qualifying criteria for acceptable applications and then you implemented a major change regarding what you accept as income but you did not change your Policy and Procedures Manual. A rental applicant may demand to see your written policies. If your current practices are different from the ones you have put in your manual, the applicant could use the discrepancy against you in a Fair Housing dispute or another type of legal action.
- It could be that you put your Policy and Procedures Manual years ago, but you never added new legislation as it occurred, such as the Junk Protection Act, the Can-Spam laws, or local legislation that is important to operating your business.
- You hire a new employee and you give them your company manuals to review, but they are badly outdated. This hinders the new hire from doing their job properly and it could discourage their productivity.
There are many reasons to keep manuals updated in a Real Estate/Property Management office. What is important is not to procrastinate, but just put a plan into practice that will take care of this important task.
How Can You Keep Your Property Management Manuals Updated?
It does not have to be a difficult experience to update a manual. Here are some simple steps.
- Step 1 – Decide how often it is necessary to review your manuals. You may need to update some manuals more frequently or at the same time. For example, your Policy and Procedures Manual for Property Management may change more frequently than your Owner Manual. Alternatively, it could be that the change affects both.
- Step 2- Schedule the updates on your calendar. Choose reasonable times – you do not want to attempt changes when all the rents are coming in the first of the months or it is a heavy bookkeeping time.
- Step 3 – Set up who will review the manual or manuals. Pick someone with experience and the capability for the task. Do not select someone who will absolutely hate the job and avoid it.
- Step 4 – Create folders to store “update” material for each of your manuals. Examples: you see pending legislation in a magazine; you attended a conference and learned some new ideas that would save time. Share this with your staff and ask them to contribute but not remove information from the folders.
- Step 5 – When the update is completed, meet with everyone to review for accuracy.
- Step 6 – Once it is completed, change the revision date in the footer. It is important to keep a file will all of your revisions – do not delete the previous version in your computer, simply create a “manual revisions” folder.
In this New Year, I encourage you to implement these simple steps for updating your property management manuals (and then follow through). Make it a resolution not to wait too long to review and update manuals so that the updates don’t become a daunting task.
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.