When many property managers think of housekeeping, they usually think of maintenance, but there is more to it than that. Good housekeeping is a wonderful way to make your existing tenants feel looked after, leading to greater retention, higher quality of enjoyment, and stronger win-win relationships.
As an owner or landlord there are two things you should be asking yourself in this regard:
In both instances, these things are critical to making your properties more desirable as time goes on.
One of the most common oversights on good housekeeping is simply awareness of the state of the property. “We’re all guilty of being so busy, of just walking through the buildings with different objectives and not taking the time to look at things differently,” says Elizabeth Whitton, Director of Marketing and Leasing at Armadale Property Management. “You forget to look at the ceiling, for example, to see that the lights are out, or that there’s a crack in the ceiling tile.”
Though such oversights may seem minor, taken together, they can often impact tenants’ perception of their buildings, how much management cares about their concerns, even health and safety. “Automatic pilot is what we do sometimes,” said Whitton. “We miss the details, and the details can deteriorate your building faster than anything. If tenants think you don’t care about these details, they’ll start wondering ‘is my air quality good? Are they cleaning the ducts? What chemicals are they using in their cleaning solution?’ and so on.”
The first step to good housekeeping is to break out of that “autopilot” mode and see the properties as if this was your first visit. During your walkthrough, make sure to take note of all the details, from floor to ceiling and back. Look at the areas, such as ceiling and floor corners and along railings and floorboards, that most people walk past. Look out for things that tend to get ignored, such as dead potted plants or small graffiti markings.
You can also get someone else to go with you, possibly your listing broker or another property manager, as their eyes are generally trained to appraise and inspect new facilities for sale or lease.
Finally, whether on your own or with help, take as many pictures as you can of the rooms, as little details that you don’t see in the moment will become evident later on when you have more time to look them over.
As a property manager, your best sources for information on upkeep are your tenants. Many property managers stick to the basic maintenance requirements in their lease agreements with tenants and go no further in cultivating tenant feedback. This can create the impression of apathy, which prompts most tenants to only approach managers with major issues or emergencies.
Instead, Whitton recommends that property managers invite complaints. “Tell them that you’d love to hear from them, even if the complaint seems silly or even obnoxious, and then respond within 24 hours or sooner. Develop thick skin, as every complaint has an opportunity to encourage everyone in the building, from the company president to the receptionist, to give us feedback.”
Finally, property managers should never underestimate the power of simple, diligent, day-to-day housekeeping. “In one of my buildings,” says Whitton, “we have a very old bathroom with dark, outdated looking tile. We make sure it’s cleaned twice daily, that paper towels, toilet paper, and soap are always restocked, and all the hardware works. As a result, our tenants never complain or ask us to renovate, because they can use the facilities without any difficulties.”
Even if some of the complaints – such as major renovations or non-emergency repairs – are not feasible in the short term, let your tenants know they’ve been heard and that their requests will be brought for further consideration for the following year. Tenants are more likely to respond favorably to not getting their requests met if they feel they’ve at least been heard by property management.
Good housekeeping is one of the easiest opportunities for property managers (or owners) to elevate the value of their properties and strengthen their relationships with existing tenants, while at the same time inviting new, high quality (and therefore higher paying) business in the future.