Managing a large apartment complex or multiple rental units all at once can be very stressful if you don't know some good ways to streamline the process and make things easier on yourself. Spending some time working on your current policies and changing up the way you have always done things may seem like an unnecessary task, but even a few small changes can make for some major changes leading to less anxiety and greater profits.
One of the most important things that you can do is communicate clearly. Whether that is when showing a newly available rental, or deciding on language to use in the lease, or even making calls to hire a repairman. Be clear on what your needs and requirements are to avoid confusion and more work than is necessary. Check out the below list to get you started. There are tips on how best to handle utilities, maintaining the rentals, and dealing with the tenants.
Make a Plan
The first thing to do to be successful when managing rental units is to have a plan. Know your buildings well and make lists of what improvements they need and what amenities they currently have. Research the going rate for various sized units and determine the rent you can charge based on the location and condition of the property. Budget in monies for taxes, repairs and maintenance as well. Your basic management plan will likely change and develop over time as you gain greater understanding of good practices and learn new ways to make things easier.
If you want to get the best deals for your money then you need to know the basics of all main functions of a rental building. Know the costs of utilities, services, and upkeep. Be familiar with when a minor problem can be fixed personally and when to call in the experts. You may even want to take a local class on management or how to run a business to help you more easily keep your record.
The way you manage the building's utilities will have a big impact on the amount of time and effort you need to put in to track them and how much they end up costing you. You can, if you choose, pay the utilities yourself and charge each tenant a flat rate to cover their usage, but this method is very imprecise. You may end up undercharging your tenants and be out a large sum of money.
An easier solution is to work with a multifamily utility company. These types of companies can take a close look at your building and offer suggestions for the best solutions for your needs. They can install and set up a system allowing them to sub meter the units. This can involve some upfront cost and involve an installation period, but the rewards are more than worth it. Sub metering allows for billing each unit for the exact usage and consumption. Prices are more fair since they are paying for exactly what they use. It can also encourage tenants to conserve utilities since they will know they are paying for everything they do, ending up with reduced waste.
Another great feature of a multifamily utility company is that they can handle the billing for you. They will send out invoices and collect the money owed, saving you a lot of time you can invest in other ventures. If you prefer, rent can even be billed in the same statement for even greater savings and streamlining the process. Online access makes it easy and convenient for tenants to log in and check their balance and make payments. Combining rent with utility costs can help to get all payments done by the due date.
The set up and the software used for utility monitoring will be tailored to fit the needs of your units. Employees will be trained how to use it so they can access the system and answer questions when needed. The software system is an excellent way to track billing and expenses, compile reports and keep track of all records.
A multifamily utility company can also work directly with the supplier to negotiate a favorable rate, which could save you and your tenants money.
Build Relationships With Vendors and Servicers
When you are in charge of multiple rental units, it's inevitable that you will run into problems from time to time. From a broken pipe to a stove not working, you need to have a list of contacts readily available so you can address whatever issue the tenant has quickly.
Build a good relationship with some local vendors and repair people so you can count on them to promote speedy and quality work. When you call on the same people, there's also a good chance you can work out a discounted rate for consistently giving them your business.
Check Appliances and Equipment
Try to prevent too many emergency repairs and outages by conducting regular servicing of appliances and equipment like radiators, refrigerators, and air conditioners. This will let you spot minor issues quickly so you can make small repairs and extend the life and efficiency of these appliances, saving you money. A check every so often will also alert you to any faulty or damaged equipment that may pose a hazard so you can prevent any injuries or damage from occurring.
Do Regular Inspections
While you are at it, conduct a semi-annual inspection of the building and grounds. Call in the professionals to check out your heating system and clean the duct work. Have the foundation and roof looked at. Prevention is a much better option than repairs for these things that can be very costly.
Keep Tenant Turnover Low
Offer great units that are clean and provide the amenities that tenants want. Washers and dryers, a gym in the building, or play equipment for children are some popular options. Have policies in place to anticipate and deal with common complaints like noise. Include suggested quiet hours and information on trash pick up, pets, and parking in the lease to prevent misunderstand. These things can all make for a better relationship with your tenants and keep them happier. This is good news for you since happy tenants will be likely to stay put and keep turnover low.
You can help to ensure that your tenants will be respectful of the rules and make rent on time by having them fill out an application and following through on checking references. A little extra effort up front can help you determine who is securely employed and able to meet their obligations. Always do this before handing over keys or allowing anyone unaccompanied access into the building.
Re-Evaluate Property Tax
Another way that you can potentially save some money is by having your property taxes reevaluated. You may be paying too much, or could qualify for a reduction or lower rate. You won't know if you don't try.
Following some of these suggestions can make running and managing your properties so much easier on you. They are also beneficial to your tenants which means they are content and willing to maintain a good relationship with you.