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The Complete Guide to Staying Leased Up Over the Next Decade Despite Resident Concerns About High Rent

May 13, 2020

luke-van-zyl-koH7IVuwRLw-unsplash (1)As the multifamily industry grows, so does residents’ concern about high rent — especially now — very similar to the way Pinocchio's nose grows as he fibs.


However, we’re not “fibbing” about this important topic. 


You might be thinking, “My lease rate is high, why should I spend the small amount of free time I have focusing on overcoming an issue I’m not experiencing?” 


Our answer to that is — as the market grows and demand increases, rent increases. It’s simply smart for the future success of your business to be proactive. 


If you’re not yet experiencing residents’ concern about increasing rent, you may also be thinking, OpenProperty, how do you know that this is such a prevalent topic?”


Our conviction is based on regulatory changes. In response to concerns over high rent and cost of living, state and city lawmakers have taken action by implementing rent control and security deposit legislation


This is a huge change from past years.


As an owner, manager, or professional in this industry, your first step on the path to  overcoming the effects of renter concern over high rent is knowing what these changes in law are and where they’re happening.


Here is the most recent legislation changes across the United States: 


New Rent and Security Deposit Laws


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Why New Rent and Security Deposit Laws Matter to Property Management Companies and Property Owners


Beyond knowing if and how your business is affected, understanding the state of rent and security deposit laws is important for retaining residents.


As rent continues to slowly rise due to demand, residents’ fear that they are spending an unjustifiable and uncountable amount of their income on rent is real. 


While these new laws are great for residents, they are not nearly widespread yet — and it will take a long time before that is the case. This means that for most residents, high rent is still a real concern.


Let’s pause for a moment and take a look at our favorite local resident, Natalie Shopista...



This is likely the scenario many of your current and future residents face annually. 


What does this mean for property management companies? If your business is in one of the many areas that don’t have new rent control laws, you need to invest some time in implementing measures that create a positive resident experience, increase retention rate, and keep lease rates high.


As a property management company or property owner, you should ensure your community is continually offering increased value in ways that don’t require a lot of money in feature and amenity upgrades.


The Top Ways Property Management Companies Can Combat Residents’ Concern Over High Rent


It’s time to get down to it! 


Here are the most efficient and successful ways to boost resident experience and keep lease rates high even if residents are concerned with high rent: 

Online Reputation Management


Online reputation management is the main place property management companies should focus their efforts. 


We’re sure you’ve heard this recommendation before, probably more times than you’ve heard, “Why did I get a late fee? I was only a few days late!” 


However, when we say online reputation management is the most important place to focus your efforts, we don’t just mean posting on social media and responding to reviews as usual. We’re recommending that you take your online reputation management strategy to the next level and engage with tactics and ORM tools that are unique and can give your property a competitive advantage in the market.  


This is where you’ll see the difference when it comes to residents continuing to rent with your property despite high rent. 


The more your residents feel that your property is anticipating their needs, attending to their wishes, and listening to their voice, the more value they will see in continuing to lease at your property. 


This trio can be achieved through enhanced online reputation management tactics. 


Questions About Effective Online Reputation Management + The Basics of a Good ORM Strategy


When you see the words, “online reputation management,” what do you think of? What are the main components of your strategy? What do you think makes a good ORM strategy? And lastly, is your strategy successful?


If you don’t have real statistics that show improvement in your lease rates as a product of your ORM strategies, then the information in this blog can definitely help you. 


In the past, marketers and property professionals have stressed beyond belief that online reputation management is the key to lease success. While we’re not disagreeing with that statement at all, as an ORM tool ourselves, we felt it was important to ask the big questions about online reputation management and how successful it truly is for property management companies. 


Related: THE MULTIFAMILY MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: Is Online Reputation Management Worth The Big Bucks?


We discovered that while online reputation management is essential, it doesn’t directly, positively impact the number of new leads and consequently, new leases, your property is receiving. 


Even if it does — there is no way to measure it.


With rents rising and resident concern growing around if they can continue to afford to rent with your property, it’s important to make real progress with your online reputation and stand out among the competition.


Let’s look at it this way…



The winner of the new lease is clear. 

For clarification, here are the standard ORM practices that should be included in your strategy without a doubt:




Ensuring that your ORM strategy includes all of these aspects will help bolster the resident experience because residents will feel like they are heard and thought about regularly. When you are in active communication with your residents through all of these avenues, you remind them that you are a caring property and that the chunk of paycheck they spend on rent is worth it.


A substantial value, such as care and consideration, can help residents justify the cost of continuing to rent with your property.


Let’s dive further into the most important aspect of online reputation management when it comes to new leads and a continued high lease rate...


Online Ratings Highlight Your Property’s Market Value


Online ratings have always been at the core of a good online reputation management strategy, but as we mentioned above, standard ORM tactics for acquiring and handling reviews don’t always create the desired increase in the number of online ratings, and leases, property management companies want to see. 


So how can property management companies overcome the shortcomings of current ORM software to show residents that their property is worth the cost of rent?


The answer is through a new type of ratings — the kind that doesn’t rely on the individual experiences and opinions of residents. 


A New Type of Ratings That Provides a Competitive Advantage By Showcasing Your Property’s Financial Benefits and Transparency


There are three important things to point out in regards to online ratings:




These three facts are no secret for our industry, and property management companies have been struggling with these problems for years. 


Seeing this is what inspired us to create a new type of ratings that overcomes these issues. 


It might be considered “bad practice” to toot our own horn in a post, but we would not be offering an authentic guide if we didn’t include an ORM online rating tool that we know enhances property management companies’ strategies for lease and resident retention success.


What Are Automatic Ratings + How They Work to Help Increase Your Property’s Value in the Eyes of the Renter


Automatic ratings are unlike resident reviews in that they aren’t based on personal preferences and experiences — they are based on financial data that your property already collects. 


Each time a resident moves out, that triggers a new rating to be published. 


With this type of new ORM tool, you don’t have to rely fully on residents anymore for online ratings.


With the combination of resident reviews and automatic ratings, you can show prospective residents that despite high rent, your property follows good business practices and has fair move-in/late fees. 


Related: OPTIMIZE YOUR ONLINE CURB APPEAL: Online Reputation Management Partnered With Automatic Accurate Ratings


As well, automatic ratings can increase the number of online ratings your property has rapidly, which is another way to catch prospective renters’ attention. 


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All in all, automatic ratings paired with resident reviews and your current online reputation strategy is a recipe for lease success! 


It offers another way for residents to see the value of renting with your property. With the assurance through these financial-based ratings that your property has low security deposits and minimal move-out fees, residents will feel an extra level of comfort and trust when renting with your property. 


This assurance can lead them to opt to continue renting with your property even when rent increases. 


Even with a high rent cost, knowing that your property won’t blindside residents with extra costs and that your property has a positive track record of resident-property relationships establishes added value to your property.


Want to see automatic ratings in action? Schedule a one-on-one demo with our team. 


Additional Ways to Add Real Value Your Property 


Moving on with more ways to ensure that residents concern over high rent does not cause your lease rate to decline, here is a quick overview of a few: 


1. Take Action on Feedback Received in Negative Reviews


Take negative reviews as a learning lesson and don’t let any lesson go to waste. Identify the problem addressed in the review and aim to fix it. 


This will show residents that your property cares, possibly unlike the community down the street, and that will hold weight when they are either deciding to rent with you or choosing to re-sign with you.


Value doesn’t have to be physical, like a fully-equipped fitness center. Value can be intangible, like knowing that your home is ready to address your concerns.


2. Share High-Quality Property Images to Increase Apartment Tours



Bad online photos will deter prospective renters from visiting your property in person, so make sure you have well-lit, clear, and level photos displayed. 


As well, when prospective residents see that your rent is similar to another property, and that other property has high-quality photos on their website, which property do you think the renter will schedule a tour with? 


3. Produce Increased Quality Content


Push yourself to publish regular blogs, FAQ pages, and social posts to help “wow” both current and prospective residents on all the helpful information you offer. As well, share content that has nothing to do with you community but rather with the goal of helping you audience with common problems they experience. These could be answers to simple problems such as how to get a ketchup stain off the living room wall or more complex topics such as why resigning your lease is less expensive than moving. 


Residents, just like you, find value in reliable resources. If they see your property as a reliable resource, they will have an easier time seeing it as a reliable home. 


4. Highlight In-Demand Amenities on Your Website and Social Media


You might know what in-demand amenities renters are looking for, but are you actively showcasing that online? When a resident immediately sees the features they care about most on your website, they register your property as one that understands their needs. 


Knowing that their needs will be met and cared for can be worth 50% of a paycheck to many residents.


Here are the top ones:




Interested in a more in-depth explanation on these distinct ways to future-proof your property and continue your high lease rate? Check out this blog. 


Upgrading the Content on Your Website Can Show Residents What Their Money Is Worth


In 2020, the major trend of residents visiting a property’s website long before visiting in person will continue to grow. 


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Additionally, a thorough but cost-free content update to your property website can make a big difference when it comes to residents engaging with your website and moving to the next step in the decision cycle even after they see how much a 2x2 with a balcony is per month.


Here are five changes to make based on research completed on what current residents care about: 


1. Make Your Speedy Wi-Fi a Prominent Attribute on Your Homepage 


Here are a few important statistics to support this: 


Residents need reliable Wi-Fi and if a property does not offer it, they will either not rent or purchase their own Wi-Fi package. Knowing that they will not have to deal with that extra expense when renting with your property is a huge plus. 

This can help ease the stress of seeing the monthly rent.


2. Highlight Any Money-Saving Smart Tech Your Property Has


In light of residents current concerns about high rent, this is a huge way of helping overcome your residents fear about income vs. rent. 



3. Show off Your Property’s Green Features


More than 63% of residents are interested in on-site renewable energy while 73% are interested in communities that offer green initiatives.


This reveals that if your property has green features, it would be very beneficial for you to present it on your website to further catch residents’ attention. 


For residents that care about the environment, which the majority of your target audience (millennials and Gen Z) do, seeing that your property offers green features will help residents justify the cost. In other words, a prospective resident might think, “One of the reasons the rent at this property is high is to help sustain the properties’ green features. I understand that.”  


Staying Up to Date on Property Management Trends


We know that as a property manager or owner, “extra time” or “free time” often exists only in your dreams, and when you hear the word “change,” all you can think is that you absolutely do not have time to implement changes. 


That being said, as residents increasingly worry about affording their rent, it’s important to stay current on popular property management trends that residents find valuable: 


Smart Home Technology

Upgrading your units with smart home technology is one of the best ways to offer increased value to your residents and continue to show them what their rent is going towards. 




One great smart home technology to have, if you don't already, is smartlocker storage. We live in a time where online shopping is a daily routine for many millennial and Generation Z renters. This means that most of your residents in this age group are receiving packages on nearly a daily basis. Having a safe place for their packages to be stored before they can come pick them up is extremely important to today’s residents. 


To learn more about the importance of smartlocker storage as well as a list of the top smart home technologies to add to your property, check out our Property Management Trends blog. 


Self-Guided Tours

This 2020 property management trend is a win-win for both your property management company and prospective residents. 


Residents get to explore your property on their own time without feeling pressured and your staff gets to devote more time to attending other matters. 


The Future Is Now


We know this is a lot to take in, but as prospective residents look at your property as a possible future home and current residents start to consider renewing, it’s important to strive to offer them a value that they won’t find anywhere else. This will not only improve resident satisfaction but it will help balance their concern over rising rent. 


The main takeaway here is that the best way to overcome residents' concern over rising rent is to implement a combination of increased online ratings, open communication, and taking steps that show residents that your property is anticipating their needs. 


With some effort and care, you can keep residents happy and loyal to your property for years to come!