Property Management Hacks for the Buildings
No, we’re not talking about breaking doors down…honest.
‘Hacks’ are one of those things we can never get enough of — small insider-developed tricks that are designed to address one specific annoying problem and do it so well that you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them. Here’s some building-related ‘hacks’ we’ve learned over the course of our years and years of managing properties in some of the most challenging neighborhoods in the country. Of course, all of these are up to the individual client, so not every home has every hack employed — but every one we can squeeze in is one less thing we have to think about later!
Tricking (or Forcing!) Tenants to Act Responsibly
The best hacks are ones that fix problems automatically, without anyone having to be there to deal with the execution. Check out these small ways we’ve discovered to prevent tenants from accidentally messing up your properties:
- Rewire the bathroom so the fan comes on when the light comes on. This goes a huge way toward reducing mold and mildew in the most mold-and-mildew-prone room in the house.
- Line the area under every sink with a vinyl or rubber liner. This will prevent a tiny leak that can go unnoticed for weeks from dealing expensive damage before it’s caught.
- Stick a gallon jug of sand in the back of the toilet. If you pay for the water in a particular rental, force them to save it! (Most won’t ever notice.)
- Add bins to a home that has low storage. No, seriously — dropping $8 at the dollar store on a handful of silly plastic bins can turn an obviously deal-breaking low-storage kitchen or bathroom into a place that has plenty of space for all your stuff. It’s a near-zero price to pay for getting a tenant in a week or four earlier than you often would.
- Put a mirror over a hole in a door. Those 4′ mirrors that you can get for $8-$12 at Big Lots! make for a great cheap way to patch up a door while assuring that the angry tenant who put the hole there in the first place is profoundly less likely to do it again. Also makes the space seem roomier!
Saving Money with Unusual Tricks
- Rip out all the carpet. Even if you have to put in new floors (because there’s nothing useful underneath), the expense of putting in a cheap but easy-to-clean linoleum or vinyl floor is easy to recoup in cleaning costs compared to just a few move-out deep-cleans of wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Keep a lockbox at every home. Having a spare key in a combination lockbox at every home means that your handymen/vendors/agents/inspectors/etc. don’t have to check out a key from the office and check it back in — they just need a scrap of paper to write the lockbox code on. (Note: don’t do this in a neighborhood where someone desperate enough will just sit there overnight and try every combination until it opens.) Even a tenant with a lockout can be given the code over the phone, get inside, and then you can cruise out and re-set the lockbox code the next morning!
- Your Friend, Monotony. Buying fixtures, paint, molding, and anything else on the long list of Stuff Every Property Will Need is a pain — but buying in bulk and simply using the same stuff inside every house can save a lot of money. The fact that every home has an easy-to-find backup of everything is pure gravy.