Look, it’s a little difficult to actively care for the environment when you’re a property manager. As a person tied to a business you’re looking for cost-cutting measures and quick fixes rather than eco-friendly options. But listen—while it seems like deciding between light bulbs at the hardware store is a no-brainer (going for the cheaper, yet energy inefficient one?), those immediate lower costs can lead to higher costs in the long run. Who doesn’t want to save money on their monthly heat, electricity, and water bills? As it turns out, you can do just that all while making your properties more eco and energy friendly.
When most people think of making a place more eco-friendly they imagine a stark makeover: new air conditioning units, new lightbulbs, expensive sinks, and newfangled technologies. And by all means if you have the resources to provide those amenities all at once then go for it! But it doesn’t have to be so immediate. Start slow—stock up on energy efficient light bulbs for replacements. The next time plumbing needs repaired, think to buy the more efficient system. Rising heat costs in the winter, cooling costs in the summer? Invest in draft blockers for the bottoms of doors and windows. Small changes like this can reduce the amount of money you spend on utilities while also lessening your impact on the environment. Then, who knows? After you save enough money, start dishing out on fancier options like solar panels—that is, if you’re lucky enough to live in a place that gets enough sunshine (like good old South Florida).
Increasing the value of a property can be a daunting task. Renovations and remodeling can take years and a ton of money, so many property managers and landlords just brush off the idea. Sticking with the status quo is much easier than shelling out renovation money upfront, even if it could mean greater returns in the long run. But, much like we described in our post about energy efficiency [link], planning for the long term is almost always a smarter move.
So, where do you begin if you’re looking to increase the value of your properties? Do a little spy work to find out. No doubt you’ve got some friendly competition in the property market wherever you live—what are they doing in terms of remodeling? Check out open houses, stay up-to-date on the newest features and interior design trends. If you’ve got the dough, you could even hire an interior designer to enhance the look and value of your properties. Even small changes like a well-done paint job or updated kitchen fixtures can go a long way in reeling tenants in. Wax the floors, steam the carpet, or purchase new flooring altogether whenever renovations are needed. Remodel a test case building or space and see what value that adds for a single property—it might turn out to be beneficial to remodel the entire swath of properties you manage or own. And of course, the higher in value you make the property, the more likely it is that a tenant will pay a higher price and respect more highly the space they will be renting.
In the midst of hurricane season, it’s important to know the actions that should be taken as a property manager in South Florida. We all know that this is when those hefty monthly insurance payments can come in handy, but minimizing the risk from hurricanes and dealing with any problems after they strike is a more proactive response than counting on insurance. For our post about protecting your property in the event of a storm, click here. You’ll find tips and tricks for securing vital damage points like windows and roofs. The post you’re reading now will cover what to do in the aftermath of the storm—when it’s time to tell whether or not protection has been enough.
After the storm has passed and business begins to pick back up, it’s important, especially if you are the owner of many properties, to quickly and personally assess the damage that has been done. Tenants can be helpful for assessing damage, but it is best to collect your own records and photographs of conditions in the aftermath of a storm. List repairs that will be necessary, including repairs to the insides of properties—issues such as pipe leakage and problems related to sewage are harder to notice but important to fix quickly. Rank the importance of the problems and prioritize those that need to be assessed first. If you manage living space, make sure those spaces are made livable ASAP over minor concerns—especially if tenants are relying on your management to stay safe in their rented homes/apartments.
It is perhaps most important to keep in contact with tenants in the aftermath of the storm. They will be able to track the arrival of manual labor professionals sent to fix problems and can bring to light any smaller concerns you may have missed during damage assessment.
Routine property inspections are a normal and important part of property management. They ensure that tenants are taking care of the property they use and they also give property managers the ability to investigate any problems that may arise before a tenant moves out. While most tenants are forthcoming about broken fixtures or damage to property, it is sometimes the case that issues are revealed only once a tenant has moved and gone (and in that case we have the handy security deposit). It’s ideal to have inspections not only at the start and end of a lease, but also throughout the duration of a tenant’s use of the property.
A great rule of thumb for inspections is to have one every 3-6 months—even if it’s informal, it can be helpful to pop by your property to check out the place a few times per year. This kind of attention to the care of a property isn’t just good for a property manager. It also shows your tenants that you’re serious about the quality of their rental space. It’s also wise to give tenants a 24 or 48 hour notice before an inspection of the property so they aren’t blindsided by your entrance. Never show up unannounced, and try your best to follow through with a scheduled inspection. Leaving a tenant hanging on a day when they’re expecting you is unprofessional.
While it’s important to carry out inspections during the lease, it benefits tenants and property managers to have a guided inspection at the beginning of a lease as well. Take your tenant through the property and outline precautions that might need to be taken with certain fixtures. Make sure they know what is permissible and what is not. This way, if anything is amiss during a future inspection, you have the ability to address your warnings and recommendations from the initial inspection.