EPMEPM: Productivity

Tune Up Your Engine Room For 2017

When was the last time you gave your property management department a compete service checkup? Is it in the best shape to help you achieve your goals for 2017? Heidi Walkinshaw of Real+ takes a look at some of the key areas that might be in need of a tune up.

When we set out our goals at the beginning of the year, we look at the bigger picture of what we would like to achieve. After that, we start to think about how we are going to get there. However, if we drill down further when we are putting those plans in place, we should be asking ourselves: do we have the systems and processes to make that happen?

In property management, some of the areas that you might like to look at are:

1. RENT ARREARS – What is your current arrears rate? Is it under or over that golden five per cent mark? There may be some regulars popping up on those lists who need a little tough love.

Maybe one resolution that you might like to make this year is to get tougher on those frequent late payers.

2. ROUTINE INSPECTIONS – Are they currently up to date and is there a schedule set out for the year? Sometimes when we visit offices they assure us that their inspections are all in order, but the data we find tells a different story. When you are planning out those routines, keep in mind a few factors, including the number of inspections per year that you are promising your owners and allowing time off for annual leave and public holidays. Try to steer away from the Christmas and January period.

3. RENT REVIEWS – Is there a system in place for reviewing rents? One trap that property management teams often fall into is not reviewing the rent, or not keeping reviews in line with current market conditions. When you are reviewing those rents, it is important to ensure that you have some comparables of the current market to support your evidence for either maintaining the rent at its current level or implementing an increase. This can assist with reducing possible disputes.

4. LEASE EXPIRIES – Many owners’ insurance policies include a requirement that there must be a fixed term tenancy agreement in place at all times. If not, the owner may not be covered should any mishaps occur at the property. It is important to ensure that you have the details of the owner’s insurance whilst you are managing the property and have any requirements noted in your computer software for access and information.

5. REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE – Are all maintenance activities up to date? Is there a process in place to ensure that work is completed in a reasonable amount of time, to an acceptable standard, by the tradeperson, with the invoice received and payment made promptly? Details of your tradies should also be audited regularly, ensuring that they are up to date with any relevant licences and insurances required to cover not only themselves and the owners and tenants, but to also reduce any liability to your agency. An induction with any new tradespeople is also recommended to ensure a smooth transition into your agency’s expectations for all parties.

6. ACTIVE AND INACTIVE PROPERTIES – Sometimes when we visit offices a business owner will advise us that they have X number of properties under management. However, as we start to delve into the data we may find that X actually happens to be Y. This can sometimes be as a result of lost managements not being marked inactive or recorded correctly in the system. Having a system where owners, properties and tenants that are no longer under management are marked inactive can assist with an accurate reflection of numbers.

7. COMPLIANCE – With changes to legislation around compliance occurring regularly, it is imperative to ensure that your teams are trained in the latest requirements to provide the best possible service and, more importantly, reduce the liability to your agency. Are your systems up to date with areas such as smoke alarm and pool compliance? What about window locks and blind cords? Are insurances up to date and all legal documents, such as your Management Agency Agreements, Residential Tenancy Agreements and Condition Reports, completed correctly and in line with legislative requirements? These are areas that can raise red flags and may land you in hot water if they are not to code.

Thinking about your property management engine room, if you were to put a tick or a cross against the areas above, how well would your department score? Is the engine purring like a kitten, or rattling along with a bit of rust in the pipes?

These are just a few of the areas we look at when assisting departments in getting into the shape they hope to achieve. If you would like to see how we can help, give the team a call and we can find a solution to help you achieve those 2017 goals.

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Heidi Walkinshaw

Heidi Walkinshaw has been immersed in property management for over 14 years, dealing in all aspects from leasing, property management, business development and team management. For more info visit realplus.com.au.