5 Tips for Landlords for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Could you use a vacation? Once the holidays wind down, it’s the perfect time to get away–but seasonal hazards like winter storms, freezing temperatures, and residential fires may have you feeling apprehensive about leaving your property at risk.

As you work hard to ensure that your residents have a safe and stress-free holiday, it’s easy to feel like you’re stretched too thin to take a break. We’re here to help you carve out time for the things that are important to you, whether that means quality time with your family or a well-earned vacation. While your properties can require your attention at any hour of the day or night–weekends and holidays included–it doesn’t need to prevent you from taking the time you need to renew your energy and motivation.

Here are 5 tips for a low-stress holiday season that you can put into action today (so you can make sure you get the break you deserve)!

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #1

Invest in Preventative Maintenance

Start by asking residents what needs fixing rather than waiting for them to call in emergency repairs. Have furnaces, smoke alarms, boilers, fireplaces, roofs, and other key points of failure inspected ASAP. Insulate pipes in exterior walls, trim tree branches, clear out your gutters, drain outdoor spigots, and take other precautionary winterization steps before winter’s in full force.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #2

Help Residents to Help You

Residents are your eyes and ears for issues like frozen pipes, power outages, and failing appliances. Keep them in the loop so they can help you to prevent issues–for instance, by leaving cabinet doors open to warm pipes on exterior walls. Make sure they know how to get ahold of you if problems do arise, and that you have up-to-date contact information for each household as well.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #3

Stay on Top of Safety

Reach out to residents with guidelines for kitchen and space heater safety. Holiday meal prep and space heater usage are disproportionately responsible for residential fires, which unfortunately peak on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition, remind residents to keep Christmas trees well-hydrated and away from heat sources, which can also result in fires. Last, be sure to test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, replacing batteries and swapping out expired devices.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #4

Contact Your Contractors

If you haven’t already, be sure to find contractors you can trust and line up service contracts for snow clearing today–before the worst of winter weather is upon us. If you wait until a storm hits, your contractors’ other clients will take priority, leaving you and your residents out in the cold. Make sure to have a supply of de-icing chemicals and shovels on hand for residents to use, too.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #5

Don’t Go it Alone

Above all else: Consider hiring a property manager to tackle your entire to-do list, for the coming season and beyond. This year, you could spend your time enjoying your loved ones’ company rather than worrying about what’s going on at your rental properties and troubleshooting issues. To find the perfect property manager for you (wherever your neck of the woods might be), just visit All Property Management’s website.

P.S. If you liked this post, we bet you’ll enjoy this, too: 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords for a Successful & Productive 2018.

Robin Burinskiy is the Senior Content Writer and Managing Editor for the All Property Management Blog and Buildium Blog. She cut her teeth as a marketing copywriter at Wayfair and TechTarget, and she spends her free time perfecting her lifestyle blog, Feather & Flint. She holds degrees in psychology, sociology, and songwriting.

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5 Resident Appreciation Ideas to Spread Holiday Cheer in Your Community

It seems obvious, but it’s something that’s often overlooked by landlords, property managers, and HOAs alike: Happy residents are good residents, and the ones who are most likely to stick around in the long term.

Believe it or not, keeping people happy doesn’t need to cost a fortune. You don’t need to make a grand gesture to show your residents that you appreciate them. Even a hand-written note that says how much you enjoy having them as a part of your community can go a long way.

This season, round out the year by focusing on resident appreciation. Here are a few ways to spread the holiday cheer within your community.

Resident Appreciation Ideas for the Holiday Season: #1

Light It Up

It’s amazing how happy a few well-placed LED lights can make us during the holidays. You can keep it simple by putting flameless candles in the windows, or you can create an over-the-top display on the lawn of your property. We typically prefer an understated look that will appeal to all residents far and wide, including prospective residents touring units during the holidays.

Inside, add holiday lighting to the common areas. Consider decorating a Christmas tree for all residents to see, or hang lighted wreaths and garlands in doorways. There are so many ways to play with lighting displays during the holidays–and this time of year, you can typically find a string of 100 incandescent lights for under $5 at your local pharmacy or hardware store.

Resident Appreciation Ideas for the Holiday Season: #2

Dish Out Tasty Treats

For one weekend every December, my kitchen turns into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I spend hours upon hours baking cookies, candies, and other decorative sweets. I buy pretty boxes and tins to package the goodies, and then deliver a set to each resident with a card thanking them for another great year. It’s not much, but it’s the thought that counts.

A simpler option would be to order a pie for each tenant, or to leave a dish of holiday candy in the common area for all to enjoy. If you’re going to do the latter, just be sure that someone is checking in every so often to replenish the stash throughout the holidays!

Resident Appreciation Ideas for the Holiday Season: #3

Give a Small Gift

Most residents never expect a gift from their landlord, property manager, or HOA–which makes the gesture that much more impactful. Gifts should certainly be small, such as a $15 gift certificate to the neighborhood grocery store. If you have a good relationship with the tenants and can personalize the gift, that’s even better. For instance, I know that one of my tenants grabs coffee every morning on his way to work, so he’d love a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card. Another tenant has a newborn baby, so $20 to Babies-R-Us would certainly be put to good use. Just be sure to keep the gift small and simple, with a note that thanks them for being great residents or neighbors.

Resident Appreciation Ideas for the Holiday Season: #4

Host a Holiday Party

You might be thinking, “But I only have 5 residents!” That’s okay–whether you have 5 residents or 500, a holiday party can be a great way for neighbors to get to know one another. When neighbors form positive relationships with one another, they tend to stick around longer–and fewer issues come up.

The format of the holiday party may vary depending on your resident profile. For instance, in properties with young children, you may consider inviting Santa to pose for photographs with the kids. Other ideas include a gift wrapping party, a Yankee Swap, a beer and wine mixer, or a pot luck supper (where management could provide an enticing main course).

If you’re struggling to determine which type of event residents would be most inclined to attend, shoot out a quick survey. Residents often love to give feedback and will often come up with an idea you had never considered!

Resident Appreciation Ideas for the Holiday Season: #5

Team Up to Give Back

The holidays are a great time to give back to the community–but you shouldn’t have to do so alone. Consider engaging residents with a canned food or toy drive, or asking residents to join you in “adopting” a local family who cannot afford gifts of their own this year. This differs from most tenant appreciation ideas in that you aren’t doing something specifically for residents, but it shows a different side of management and encourages camaraderie.

Spreading the holiday cheer isn’t just good for morale–it’s good for business. Residents who feel at home are less likely to leave, which reduces turnover and potential vacancies. Most of these suggestions, from small gift certificates to holiday decorations, are also tax-deductible.

However you decide to celebrate, just keep in mind that your residents may have a variety of religious beliefs. It’ll be a failed effort if you end up offending someone, so we suggest keeping all events, gifts, and decorations agnostic during the holidays–better to be safe than sorry!

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How to Deal with an Influx of Package Deliveries at Your Property This Holiday Season

People are shopping online now more than ever. They’re buying clothes, household supplies, and even groceries online. Amazon, Blue Apron, Peapod, and countless others are making a steady stream of deliveries to residents’ doors. One poll finds that more than 25% of residents receive at least 4 packages each month.

Package delivery management is creating a major headache for some rental owners and HOA communities.

“As online sales continue to skyrocket, package delivery management is becoming a growing issue to apartment communities,” says Mercedes Sanchez of the Houston Apartment Association. “Many simply do not have the storage capacity, so they are trying to figure out how to handle the deluge of packages and are having a second look at their policies regarding this issue.”

A recent survey finds that package carriers will first try to deliver a parcel directly to the resident’s door. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try to deliver it to a management office.

An executive with Camden Property Trust says that for his property management company, package delivery management results in 10 minutes of lost productivity per delivery. “Multiply that by the 1 million packages Camden handled in 2014 and you begin to see just how big an issue package management is, especially as online shopping continues to grow,” he says.

While package delivery management issues may be exacerbated in large apartment communities, they affect owners of small buildings equally.

In fact, small buildings are less likely to have a publicly accessible common area for carriers to deliver packages. Instead, packages are just left on the front steps, or wedged between the front and screen doors. These deliveries, when visible from the street, are an indication that nobody is home?and can put the rental unit at greater risk of a break-in.

A typical apartment community receives as many as 100 packages per week?a number that can double during the holidays?and online shopping shows no signs of slowing. This means that landlords, property managers, and HOAs are going to have to get more creative when it comes to package delivery management. There’s no time like the present, particularly with the holidays upon us!

Here are a few strategies for package delivery management at your property:

1. Relinquish responsibility. Unless you have an on-site management office where staff can receive packages for residents, be sure to specify that you’re not responsible for deliveries that are lost, damaged, or stolen. A simple email reminder may be warranted as the holiday season approaches.

2. Install an oversized mailbox. If space allows, consider installing an oversized mailbox that can accommodate packages (18 x 18 x 24 inches should do the trick). This won’t solve all of your package delivery challenges, but it will at least keep a portion of the deliveries hidden from view.

3. Utilize smart locks. As building technology becomes more sophisticated, the number of smart lock solutions has continued to grow. In smaller apartment buildings, you might consider installing a smart lock system on your front door. Carriers could use a special code to unlock the front door, allowing them to leave packages in the foyer or other common area without having access to individual rental units.

4. Invest in package lockers. Amazon announced last month that it would start partnering with apartment buildings to offer Amazon Hubs: locker systems that can receive deliveries fulfilled by Amazon. Amazon will experiment with allowing other carriers to deliver their packages to those hubs as well.

Amazon isn’t the only purveyor of locker systems?there are others with varying degrees of sophistication. Most cost anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 per locker, but each locker can be shared by five to eight apartments. The most technical locker systems can tell which compartment is empty and will randomly assign the locker so that resident can use a unique code to get their package. Lockers can be accessed any time of the day, which allows for round-the-clock deliveries.

The investment can be worth it, given the growth of online shopping. Residents now view storage lockers as an added amenity that can help your building stand out from the rest. According to a survey by Multifamily Executive, over 28% of renters list package lockers as “very important,” or near the top on a scale of 1-10 in terms of amenities they care about most.

Despite the spike in online shopping, we’re still only at the tip of the iceberg: About 90% of shopping is still conducted in traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores. If the last few years are any indication of what’s to come, package delivery management will become increasingly important for landlords, property managers, and HOAs in 2018.

As technology continues to improve, we expect to see other solutions emerge. Until then, these?package delivery management strategies should at least give you some reprieve as you get through this holiday season!

Amanda Maher is a self-proclaimed policy wonk who dabbles in real estate law. Amanda holds a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from Boston University, as well as a Masters in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern.

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