Whether done by wind or snow or rain or heat, damage to the roof of your rental building can be disastrous. No one wants to live or work in a space filled with buckets set up to catch intruding rain drops. So how should you go about fixing a roofing problem? You probably wouldn’t believe the number of people who get injured or even die by climbing up onto their roofs to fix blown-off shingles or holes themselves. While some people would like to believe they can do it all themselves, fixing a roof is something that should be done with the utmost care and safety by someone who knows what they’re doing. Always leave it to the professionals.
If you think you might have damage to your roof after a big storm or gust of wind, contact your landlord or property manager immediately. The owner of your building should be the one to determine the proper response to any damage. If you can’t see the damage from inside the home or by looking from the ground, it’s best to avoid climbing to the roof yourself. If a problem has developed, the roof’s stability might be compromised—don’t make the damage worse or hurt yourself by falling straight through!
Your landlord or property manager will send a professional who can assess the damage and determine what can be done. Most of the time, if the damage is affecting conditions inside the building, a temporary solution can be found before a more permanent fix is performed by a professional. The quicker you report any potential damage, the quicker it can be fixed and fixed by an expert—just because you’re closeby and willing to try doesn’t mean your fix will be quick.
Got a clog that just won’t go down? Rusty red water pouring from the faucet? A sink that refuses to drain? Backed-up toilet? Hopefully you’ve never had all of these problems at once! Plumbing issue here or there are par for the course as a lessee. Lucky for you, your property management company is almost surely ready and happy to help with any issues that might come bubbling up from the pipes.
The problem with calling for plumbing help is that most lessees and property owners don’t know the best time to contact a professional. We all like to think we’re capable of fixing any problem ourselves (and it sure does save a lot of money if we can).
So, when is a plumbing issue too much for a mere mortal to handle? Incidents that suggest pipes have been compromised should be handled with care—problems like lower pressure or discolored water are warning signs that likely need professional attention. If your drinking water is affected it’s best to have it fixed ASAP rather than spend too much time on it yourself. If your health is at risk, your property management company will always be fast to act.
What does your ideal space look like? It’s probably a lavish home or office that’s secluded on its own land—think Apple’s new Hyperloop One campus or a movie star Malibu megaplex. Reality bites, however, and those who lease property often have to make do sharing building and land space with others.
Multi-lessee complexes make up the bulk of the property management business, as you likely know. When you’re renting one of these spots in an apartment building, a warehouse hub, an office complex, or a center for retail, you eventually learn to get used to your neighbors. But even then, privacy can often feel like a luxury. What are some ways you can maximize privacy in a crowded property situation?
If you’re in an office complex with other businesses, maintaining an active front desk can keep away unwanted visitors or confused folks in search of that office down the hallway. If possible, setting an elevator code that only employees know can secure office privacy. If you’re in an apartment with nosey or noisy neighbors, try to casually address the problems—it’s best to be friendly and acquainted with neighbors so that any privacy concerns can be minimized by a simple conversation. If a neighbor ever oversteps their bounds, speak to your property management company—they can act as a mediator of complaints and concerns.
If you’re looking to lease office space, either temporarily or for a more extended stay, a big question to consider is whether or not to rent a space that comes fully furnished. For a temporary space, most lessees tend to rent a space that is furnished, removing the need to find and buy all new desks, tables, chairs, and equipment that, in the end, won’t be used for very long anyway. And conversely, if you’re looking for a longer term lease, most tenants choose to furnish their own space or have the furnishing already available to move. But while the choice might seem obvious in either situation, it can sometimes save money in the long-term to do the opposite of what you might think.
For more temporary lessees, who usually need smaller space, buying a small amount of new or used furniture for cheap can greatly reduce the monthly price of rent for a space. While it might be easier to move in and begin working on pre-provided furnishing, it is often necessary to buy supplemental furniture and supplies that isn’t already provided. Why not purchase a set of furniture from the get-go, rather than pay monthly for furnishings that don’t fit your needs?
For longer term leases, which usually cover a larger space, it can be a huge hassle to move furniture into a building. Larger spaces often necessitate a good amount of furniture, and while a company moving spaces might already possess an adequate amount of desks and chairs and electronics, the process of moving them is quite costly and poses a risk of damage to the building. If an option for pre-provided furniture is available, it might be worth evaluating the cost and comparative risk. If the space is large enough, and the cost-per-month of a furnished plan is cheap and includes upgrades or maintenance, it may be the smarter option.
It is common to sublet an apartment or condo for a while if you’ve got a vacation abroad or an extended business trip in the near future. You don’t want to give up your lease, but you also don’t want to pour money into a space you won’t be living in for an extended amount of time. Why not put it to good use and let someone else stay while you’re away? Well, it’s probably more uncommon, but could the same apply to office or warehouse space?
Say you only need a warehouse part of the year, when a big shipment comes in. Your stock of product dwindles as time goes on and on, opening up more and more space that you’re paying for but no longer using. Wouldn’t it make sense to sublease that increasingly unused space?
If you’re going on a business trip for a month or two, and staying away from the office space you lease, wouldn’t it make sense to sublease it out to someone else who could put it to good use (and receive your mail)?
When you signed your lease, your property management company likely included a stipulation about whether subletting is possible and how it can be done. If you’re in a predicament where you don’t want to let go of your lease but you won’t be using your space for a while, read the fine print! Sometimes it’s permissible to manage a sublease yourself and find a subletter willing to take over temporarily. In other situations you’ll have to put in a request and discuss it with your property manager, who may have a pool of applicants looking for temporary space. But know that while it may seem like a chore, a properly organized sublease could save you from the sunken cost of rent while you’re away.
If you’re looking for an office or retail space to lease, you’re going to want the best you can find. You know the one—great location, right in a bustling commercial area; supportive property management company and landlord; and just the right size. But securing that space? Easier said than done. It’s like applying for school and jobs all over again—the dreaded lease application, the meeting with a property manager, and all the stressful steps you have to take to prove you can not only pay the rent but manage the space well. What are property managers really looking for in a good tenant, and how can you prove you’re worth renting to?
Provide references. Hopefully you’ve got a good history of leasing in the past—if so, make sure to extend previous landlords or property managers as references who can vouch for your responsibility as a tenant.
Come prepared with questions and concerns. If you can show a property management company that you care about the quality of their space just as much they do, you’ll seem all the more perfect as a lessee.
Dress to impress. If you’re going in for a tour of a space or to meet with property managers, make sure to dress professionally and act professionally as well.
Prove your financial security. It’s obvious, but make sure you have all of the documentation ready to prove you can actually pay for the space. You might be surprised at the number of potential tenants who don’t come prepared.
Be enthused. When you’re finding a space to run your business out of, it’s important to be positive and enthusiastic. You should be excited at the prospect of a new step in your career and your business—let it show with a smile. A pleasant and engaging personality goes a long way.
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.