March 25, 2020
As a property professional, you might’ve inherently cringed as you saw the word “transparency” next to the words “property management.”
While that reaction is understandable, transparency is actually the see-through key to achieving an increased positive resident experience and high lease rates.
In the past, transparency seemed to hold a negative connotation because it was associated with the idea of exposing your business, but that’s not true.
Property transparency is the act of being open and honest with your residents about all of your policies and anything that affects their lease or resident experience.
It’s time for property transparency to become the norm. If 2019 taught us anything, it’s that residents’ expectations are increasing and they desire a new level of customer service.
Specifically, a Binary Fountain study found 31 percent of residents said that what frustrates them the most when searching for a new home was the difficulty of finding accurate information online. This means that a property management company that is dong a better job of providing accurate information than the competition is giving residents what they want.
Here’s a quick but detailed list of the four best ways to be more transparent with your residents:
1. Be Upfront About Rent Policies and Fees
You know how restaurant menus and servers always inform you that “the guac is extra?”
That’s how your property should be with every upcharge, additional fee, and cost.
Always let your residents know of charges and fees ahead of time. No positive resident experience includes a surprise late fee.
Let’s give a quick list of things that drive residents away from your property:
- Unannounced late fees
- Surprise move-out costs
- Hidden pet fees
- Unknown upcharges
- Unexpected amenity fees
To be clear, it’s okay to have certain fees and charges attached to your property’s policies, just be loud and proud about them. When your property offers residents real value, there should be no fear to share your policies.
Additionally, even though they should, most new residents do not read their lease beginning to end, especially the fine print. So even if you include all of this information in the lease, take that extra step for your residents and inform them in a more direct way.
The same goes for any changes or updates that have been implemented since the resident signed his/her lease.
2. Promote Ratings Based on Your Security Deposit Rates and Move-Out Fees
Okay, have the patience you have with that one resident that never stops emailing you and hear us out…
Lifting the veil on your finances when it comes to your security deposit rates, late fees, and move-out fees is a good thing.
Especially when your property does it through online ratings.
There is a new type of ratings that we just can’t help but mention in this list and transparency-boosting tactics. Rather than based on personal preferences and resident experiences, these ratings are based on the fees your property charges.
This is one of the many instances where having next to no move-out fees and a fair security deposit is a great thing.
By adding an OpenProperty ratings page to your online reputation management strategy, you can show residents the financial positives of renting with your property (not to mention increased online ratings for your property!)
More specifically, a Digible study found that many residents expect to get more than 71% of their deposit back and would be extremely disappointed in their property if this didn’t. By using OpenProperty’s ratings system, properties can display additional benefits of renting with them by showing the percentage of residents who get their deposit back front and center.
This can be seen as a significant value in the residents eyes and help reduce resident apprehension about what might happen when they move-out.
3. Detailed Resident Bills
Providing your residents with monthly detailed bills provides a great opportunity to present clear and accurate information to your residents about where exactly their money is going.
Oftentimes, a resident’s monthly bill consists of more than just rent, there’s also utility costs, pet charges, on-site special amenities charges, and any other ancillary fees.
Breaking all of this down rather than delivering your resident’s bill as one lump sum is often positively received by your residents. They will appreciate seeing the breakdown and having clear information on their payments and true living expenses.
Another benefit of handling your billing like this is residents can see their utility use each month, and they can make adjustments if they want to lower that expense. Residents will view this as extremely helpful and an important added value that they receive with your property.
A few additional attributes for improved billing for a positive resident experience include:
- Timely bills
- Digital delivery and online payment
- Auto-pay option
- Minimal extra text
4. Weekly Newsletters
A weekly newsletter is an incredible way to boost transparency between property management and your residents.
It doesn’t have to be lengthy, it doesn’t have to be insanely detailed, and it doesn’t need to be fancy — it just has to communicate need-to-know and helpful information to your residents as well as show that your property management team cares about the residents’ experience.
Here is a quick list of things you can include:
- Policy updates or changes
- Resident amenity upgrades
- Upcoming community events
- Helpful and relevant blogs
- Maintenance news
- Local events and happy hour specials
It’s good for residents to hear directly from your property and feel like they are “in the loop” or “in the know” of what is going on in their community and home.
If you felt like an outsider where you live, would you stay?
Quick note: If you and your team do not have the capacity or ability to put out a weekly newsletter, that’s okay. You can aim for bi-monthly or once a month — anything is better than nothing!
Property to Resident Transparency Is a Lease Saver
When you open your property to increased transparency with residents, you begin a journey of higher retention rate, positive resident experiences, and new leases.
In today’s competitive marketplace it’s less WHAT a property management company offers, and more HOW the property goes about drawing in and interacting with residents. Transparency can provide you with a competitive advantage in this field.