Apartment Building Management Tips

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Funny Apartments by Montrasio International
The success and profitability of an apartment building investment can often be determined by the quality of the management in place.

Usually apartment buildings with more than 20 units are managed by professional property management companies and those buildings with fewer than 20 units are usually managed by the owner and a live in property manager. Regardless of who is managing the apartment building it is important to follow some general principles and tips to make sure that operations run smoothly.

The management of an apartment building should be efficiently run like any other business. The manager should look to improve the client-tenant living experience while minimizing costs and increasing profit opportunities whenever possible.

One important legal issue that should never be ignored are the Fair Housing Rules which prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, marital status, and sexual orientation. Everyone involved in property management must follow these rules.

Another important matter to that can generate complaints with the management is the issue of who is responsible for repair and maintenance of the apartment units. The property owner should clearly write out in the lease agreement who is responsible for what repairs. State and federal laws should also be consulted because it is illegal to shut off essential utilities for the failure to pay rent. In other words, if a renter is late on rent it is illegal to shut off the electricity or water.

The apartment building manager should succinctly write out the following information in the lease agreement:

  • The tenant’s responsibility to maintain a clean rental unit and also pay for damage caused by neglect or abuse.
  • The tenant should alert management of any dangerous or defective situations with the property. For example: faulty wiring, water leaks, mold and fire hazards.
  • The manager will provide tenants with the official policy and procedure for dealing with complaints and repair requests. For example, what the hours of operation are for the maintenance and repair staff and how fast tenants should expect a remedy to complaints.
  • Have restrictions on tenant alterations on their apartment with out your permission, such as adding appliances, painting, etc.

In general, maintenance and repairs should be handled as speedily as possible to avoid further complaints from the tenants. Major issues like plumbing leaks and heating/cooling problems should be dealt with in 24 hours. An open line of communication between tenants and management is an essential ingredient to good overall relations. Management should keep the tenants informed of when and how the repairs will be made and the reason for any delays.

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10 Comments

  1. Charles Wilson on

    Ted,
    You are so right about being clear up front so both management and the tenant know what the responsibilities for maintenance and cleanliness are for the whole complex, as well as their individual unit.
    Getting the basics and ground rules up front makes it easier down the road. It will be clear cut and in writing. I know it made a difference when I was managing single family houses.
    As I moved into apartments, it made a big difference. Keep up the good work.
    Now, as a professional commercial real estate property scout, it is one of the things I look for in evaluating an apartment complex. Are there deferred maintenance issues and are there bad management and policies in place?
    Keep up your good helpful blogs.
    Thanks,
    Charles Wilson
    Professional Commercial Real Property Scout

  2. stephan xiao on

    the agreement is so important that both sides should know their responsiblities. you have blogged the details of writing an agreement between tenant and management, it’s necessary.

  3. Repair and maintenance of the apartment is very important point. I am impressed that you put it into the rules. Many business people just stop with build stage and less is continue with maintaining.

  4. Very well said Ted, policies and agreement must be clear in both parties to maintain the cleanliness and safeness of the building. Both parties should have a clear understanding of what to do’s and don’t s while staying in a building.

  5. All of your advice is good but what if you are dealing with tenants that were there before you bought the building and there is a lauguage barrier. All the written rules are usless if they cant or won’t read them.

  6. If you are actually the owner or manager of an apartment complex, a good money saving tip is to install sub meters on all the utilities. It is becoming more of a standard, but many older buildings still do not have them and it can be a huge cut in costs.

  7. Pingback: The Best Types of Properties for Rent | New Business Geek

  8. hi my name is shetocha and i am thinking about buying an apartment building. i am a first time investor and there is a lady that owns 3 apartment buildings she is selling one is a 9 unit apartment building, which has a mobile home and a commercial building attached which i think is a very good inestment that is 3 different incomes in one place. she has a 4 unit with all appliances, with a monthly income of $1400 priced at $200,000 and a 5 unit with commercial building…i know they always say start small but $1400 is really not enough to live off of i really want the 9 unit cause it has more income. i dont have the finances or down payment for this real estate but im afraid that i wont get it cause of my credit cause its not good. what would be the best thing for me to do

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