The average cost of tenant turnover runs between $2,500 to $3,500 depending on the area you live in, according to FRE Real Estate and Property Management. Keeping tenant turnover low and maintaining a quality property is the focus of any property manager. But wading through the endless details of keeping a property running smoothly can choke your new career before you get started. Educate yourself and prepare before stepping into your new role as a property manager by mastering some of these key areas.
Become a Jack of All Trades
Get your office in order and be prepared to do everything from light maintenance to accounting and sales. First, protect yourself and your own assets from predatory tenants and clients by monitoring your finances and credit. A service like LifeLock can help monitor for identity theft and stop it before it starts. Next, learn how to balance books and predict cash flow to stay on top of the financial health of the properties you manage. Invest in a quality toolbox to fix faulty door knobs and appliances, and look for new opportunities to advertise rentals from college bulletin boards to regional websites.
Find the Right Tenants
Setting yourself up for success starts the moment you look for a new tenant. Take the time to find the right renters the first time to keep turnover low and protect your cash flow. Ask for previous landlord references to establish a history of on-time rent payments and what type of tenants they were. Require a small non-refundable deposit for an application and background check to look into their credit history, criminal record and any evictions. The fee and procedure will scare off unscrupulous tenants and weed out those who are just casually browsing the market for rentals.
Know the Law
There’s no substitute for intimately understanding the rental and real estate laws from the start. Both the landlords you work with and their tenants will expect you to have answers to a wide variety of issues from maintenance repairs to settling disputes and what it takes to break a lease. Study the latest information about tenancy agreements and eviction notices in advance. Refrain from using unlicensed contractors for electrical work and plumbing that could be illegal in your area as well as hold you liable with the insurance company if an accident occurs.
Create Consistent Procedures
Establish a clear and consistent procedure for various property issues from how to handle maintenance requests to a tenant dispute. Tenants need to know what to do when an appliance breaks or when they want to raise a complaint with management. Set-up a separate email address to communicate with tenants, draw up request forms or use an online help ticketing system to address issues. Create a checklist for yourself on the steps to address various problems until you’re confident in the process. Use an app like Evernote to keep track of your checklist and add new procedures as needed.
Whether you’re working with tenants or landlords, property management is a relationship business. Take the time to foster those relationships by approaching your job with confidence and respect. Showing integrity and care in your work trickles down to happy tenants with lower turnover. Anticipate your landlord’s needs and create a streamlined system for knowing when there’s an issue from late rent to maintenance before your client does.