In my previous article, Ways Property Managers Can Survive a Tough Economy, I discussed some areas where property managers can cut back in order to save some money without compromising the quality of their business.
Here are some areas that you never want to cut back or skimp.
Credit and background checks.
A lot of us have been in this business for a long time, and over time we start to get a feel for people. That’s terrific and using your intuition can certainly be useful, but never decide it’s not necessary to fully screen every tenant. Besides being in direct violation of the Fair Housing Laws, (which state that all applicants must have the same screening), that well-mannered, well-dressed individual could be hiding something as serious as a felony conviction, or might have just skipped out on last month’s rent. Screen everyone. Always
It’s expensive to operate landscaping equipment and whether you’re paying for gas and maintenance for your own equipment or contracting it out, the outlay for constant, professional landscaping can be significant. But so can the repercussions if you let it go. The appearance of your property is the first thing that potential applicants see; in essence their first impression of you. Make sure your landscaping is neat, and get rid of those weeds! This goes for home rentals as well. Don’t show a property to a tenant until both the inside AND the outside is ready.
With money tight, it’s tempting to put off repairing or replacing big-ticket items, but delaying maintenance and replacement can cost much more. For instance, if a water heater has been serviced four times in the last year, it can certainly be tempting to ‘fix’ it one more time. But delaying replacement may end up costing even more when the bills come in for replacing the water-damaged carpeting along with replacing that water heater.
Never, ever compromise on safety. Rotted wood balconies, burned out lighting, and exposed wiring all pose serious risk to tenants and visitors. Burned out lighting can attract home invaders, and even random violence in parking lots. Rotting wood is common in outdoor balconies, and must be replaced when the boards become soft. Exposed wiring can be a result of a bad maintenance project or damage. Whatever the reason, be pro-active in finding any potential safety hazards and encourage your tenants to report any safety issues to the office immediately. Taking care of any issues promptly will thwart any potential accidents.