Owning and maintaining an apartment complex is not an easy task.
Owners of large communities simply hire management companies with a team of employees to oversee the entire operation. Obviously smaller properties won’t require as many employees, but larger communities require on-site maintenance, leasing staff, and an apartment manager. The entire team is overseen by a general manager who is in charge of navigating various complex issues.
No matter how big or small, all properties have one thing in common: there are always ongoing challenges that must be addressed. These can certainly impact the day to day operations. Apartment managers and owners will find that many can be solved, but others are ongoing issues that have no solution in sight. Here are some of the most common issues that plague apartment operations and their solutions.
Break-ins and Other Crime
Crime in and around the apartment complex can certainly influence the property. Many prospective residents check crime maps and other review sites specifically looking for comments and opinions before they apply. Prospective tenants don’t have to put forth much effort to investigate issues related to your property since so much information (whether it’s accurate or not) is found online.
Here are some of the most common crimes reported on properties:
- Property crime like car break-ins
- Domestic violence
- Theft can be a big issue in large apartment communities
Solution: Owners and management teams should be active and check the property address for any crime reports. This can be done by checking with the local police department. Crime needs to be minimized or the property may suffer from higher vacancy rates and lower rents. If car break-ins are reported, then additional lighting or security should be instituted on the property to rectify the situation. More aggressive screening can be put in place to weed out dangerous tenants who have criminal backgrounds that will put the property or its tenants at-risk. Crime maps can be found online in many cities. Just try typing in crime maps + (your city).
As many residents can testify, leasing staff and even managers are in a constant state of flux. It’s even common for owners to hire and fire property management companies. This high turnover can certainly be an issue for a manager. Having to constantly train and retrain new staff certainly takes time and resources away from the manager on-site.
This isn’t just an issue for managers and staff. It’s also an issue for maintenance and technicians who are employed full-time.
Owners of the communities who hire management companies to run their property operation will likely never see the turnover that occurs on the property.
Solution: Property owners should not hesitate to switch management companies looking for the best fit and results. According to NAA, a new compensation strategy might result in lower turnover rates as can other employee retention strategies.
Apartment Wear and Tear
As properties age, it’s inevitable that the apartment homes and the communities areas will begin to break down. Repairs and are a never-ending cycle that involves every single apartment community. As more and more technology is put into apartment homes and amenity areas, we can expect potential repairs. Here are some of the more common issues property owners will come across.
- Plumbing issues like clogs and leaks
- Malfunctioning AC units
- Pest control problems
- Fading paint
- Warped doors
Property management can make sure they have adequate systems for recording resident complaints. Also, a strong team should ensure that repairs are made in a timely manner, and that seasonal maintenance is performed to address issues before they arise.
Declining Apartment Values
Property management’s number one goal is to increase revenue and profits for the apartment owners. However many apartment communities fall victim to poor and declining neighborhoods, which directly impact the ability to collect maximum rent value and (in turn) make upgrades.
Apartment communities that fall victim to less fortunate areas will begin to experience more vacancies and will try a variety of methods to combat these issues.
One main function of a property manager is to conduct a thorough market analysis that involves coming up with a plan to maintain and increase property values and rental income.
Solution: A knowledgeable manager will network with other properties nearby and in similar circumstances. Determining what other properties are charging per square foot can lead to sound pricing strategies. A property manager should earn their apartment management credentials.
There will come a time when properties can be remodeled. A sound market analysis should be performed by a professional who can aid in determining what potential updates property needs and what the units can fetch per square foot.
Rest assured that there is a never-ending supply of tenant complaints. This is and will always be part of the apartment rental business. Unless the owner is hands-on, he or she may never really learn of the actual complaints that occur on a normal basis. Here are some common tenant complaints.
- Tenant noise
- Security deposit refunds
- Termination of leases
- Bed bugs
An exit survey can do wonders to help a property remedy problematic situations. This exit survey can serve as a jump-off point to create one of your own.
As with any problem your apartment communities can face, a successful owner or property manager will seek to resolve the issues quickly. This ensures that issues do not snowball into more expensive or difficult obstacles. A bit of industry expertise and some pre-planning can go a long way to ensure that your tenants are worry-free and your investment is protected long-term.