5 Crucial Checks When You Do A Surprise Community Visit

If you're an asset manager, you know how vital it is to do periodic on-site inspections. You may have a cadence to these as part of an overall routine or conduct an inspection when you notice a property performing poorly. There are, of course, times when you'll want to conduct surprise inspections to "mystery shop" a property. With COVID-19 impacting property management and maintenance work hours, it's critical to keep an even closer eye on things.

Here are the top five things you should do to make the most of your next community visit.

1) Check Property Condition and Cleanliness  

As soon as you get on the grounds, you’ll be able to tell quite a bit about the upkeep of your property by its cleanliness. Some things to take specific note of: 

  • Is front signage presentable?
  • Is there trash lying around the property or is landscaping in poor shape?
  • Are trash bins clean, free of damage, and the surrounds clear?
  • Do building exteriors show signs of mold, mildew, dirt stains, or paint chipping?
  • Have the gutters been cleaned out recently?
  • Are building pipes (particularly in severe weather areas) in good condition and free from leaking?  
  • What is the condition of the parking lot, garages, and storage facilities?
  • How do unit exteriors look? Is it time for a professional inspection of foundations and structures? 

Once you get inside the complex office, you should note the condition there as well. Is the management office representative of your brand? Here is where prospective tenants will sign lease agreements and where tenants will bring issues important to them. Does the office look professional, organized, and welcoming?

Cleanliness creates a great first impression for your tenants and prospects, and speaks to your team’s management style.

2) Inspect Units

If you can get inside any units, even vacant ones, you can review things from a tenant and prospective tenant point of view, which is critical for retention efforts. You should take note of any maintenance issues that could cause higher utility bills, such as leaky windows or doors. Obvious issues here indicate you have severe problems with maintenance you'll want to address.

3) Assess The Financials

To maximize profitability, a review of the below financial areas is helpful:

  • Audit leases - ensure leases are signed and meeting your expectations 
  • Perform a financial audit - review bank statements and ensure profit & loss reports align with bills and deposits
  • Review utility bills - search for dramatic increases or new expenses
  • Explore service contracts - identify discrepancies in service, and if a contract is up, have your team check for better prices before signing a new one

4) Ensure HR and Legal Requirements Are Being Followed

If your management team is not outsourced and your agents are direct hires, you should check for any legally required human resource postings, first-aid kits, etc., as required by the state your property resides. 

Failing to be diligent about HR laws can result in financial loss, reputational harm, or lawsuits. 

Additionally, ensuring your property management team is up to speed on discrimination laws and are following them can mitigate a tremendous amount of risk. Laws to keep in mind include: 

5) Find Out If Tenants Are Happy

Try to speak to tenants when you visit a property so you can gauge sentiment about their experiences living there and being looked after by your property management team. You should ask tenants questions like:

  • Are they getting quick responses when they have issues? 
  • Are they happy with how the property is kept and run throughout the year?
  • Do they have problems with the rent or utilities?
  • Are there issues with other tenants?
  • Would they recommend the complex to others?

Satisfied tenants could mean the difference between hitting and missing your rental budget. Satisfied are 3.5 times more likely to renew than dissatisfied tenants.  [Kingsley Associates].

If you don’t get a chance to talk to any tenants, you can (and should) run periodic tenant satisfaction surveys. You can learn more about this in our post Tenant Satisfaction Surveys 101: Get Actionable Data Now

Keep Consistent Tabs on Your Properties

As an asset manager, you know that tenant desires are always changing. Due to the pandemic, many more people work from home, some permanently, and many people use their home as a business. Tenants view their apartment more as an investment and may look at amenities like internet connectivity, printing or computer services, mailing conveniences, and so on as imperatives.  

Invest in technology to continually gauge tenant sentiment and learn where you should be investing capital to ensure the future health of your assets.

Gauging sentiment helps you find opportunities to make your assets more valuable and be a fly on the wall at your properties when you cannot conduct in-person visits. 

Quick & Easy Tenant Surveys

ResiDesk can help you run surveys multiple times a year with a much higher participation rate than typical PMS solutions. ResiDesk surveys are free, and our platform includes crucial reporting features that help you quickly make sense of overall tenant sentiment so you can readily respond. Reach out to learn more!

Access Fast Tenant Surveys

Additional Resources:

Know What Your Tenants are Thinking With Free Survey Insights
Ruthlessly Prioritize Your Day - Which Properties Need Your Attention Now?
The Pulse of Your Properties at Your Fingertips