Combat Tenant Turnover Costs With Property Upgrades

Although property managers incur expenses when turning over rentals, technology can help save money.
Couple looking around in empty flat

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All property managers deal with tenant turnover, though most would rather avoid the bother altogether. Even though turnover is a reality of property management, it’s incredibly costly.

Lori Hammond, author of Property Management Minutes, broke it down like this: In a 225-unit apartment property, there might be an average of 7.5 moves per month, which is an overall turnover rate of about 40%. If each unit’s rent is $650, and it costs $1,800 to turn over a unit in cleaning, advertising, and processing costs, then the property requires $162,000 each year just to flip units.

It behooves property managers, then, to find ways to bring down the cost of turning over units. Smart technology, energy-efficient appliances, and enhanced security measures can create efficiencies in your process. Here are a few tips to minimize turnover costs at your property.

1. Bolster security and make transitions easy. Everyone wants to feel safe in their own homes, but rental properties have higher rates of burglary than owner-occupied homes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. If tenants don’t feel safe, they aren’t likely to extend a lease agreement. As such, tenant security should always be one of the most important tasks for property managers.

Changing the locks when residents leave is a great way to give your new tenants peace of mind, but using a certified locksmith can also be quite expensive—with costs of up to $150 per lock. Internet-connected keyless locks can help both your residents’ peace of mind and your budget. Property managers simply create a new access code or electronic key for new tenants, allowing them to use the lock's keypad or their smart devices to get inside. This means you won’t have to pay to replace locks every time the property turns over. You can also generate unique codes for staff members and vendors, keeping track of everyone who accesses your property at any date or time.

Beyond connected locks, connected lightbulbs or switches that randomly turn on interior lights—as well as driveway and doorbell cameras—can also deter break-ins. Consider also adding interior-only deadbolts on exterior doors.

2. Find energy solutions that benefit your tenants and your bottom line. When turning over a property, many people enter the unit at various times, including cleaning crews, property staff, maintenance staff, and prospective tenants. By installing connected thermostats, you can set parameters on heating and cooling systems—even down to the time of day—to ensure each unit remains at a comfortable temperature and humidity level. This can save up to 23% on heating and cooling bills for unoccupied properties. Your staff members won’t have to manually change a unit’s HVAC system, either.

Similarly, connected water sensors can help keep a unit safe and functioning between tenants. If a property experiences even a relatively minor leak, costs can add up quickly for property managers, especially if it goes unchecked in an unoccupied property. Smart sensors will detect leaks and notify you that there’s an issue. You can then dispatch maintenance workers to fix the problem before it gets any worse.

Of course, all the smart technology in the world won’t compensate for poorly installed windows or energy-wasting appliances, especially if movers, cleaning teams, or maintenance workers are coming and going. Window insulators are inexpensive and can provide serious savings when it comes to utilities. Energy-efficient lightbulbs are also helpful when you have people working or moving late at night.

3. Use compatible technology so you can build a hub. Adding new technology and tools will be a waste of money unless everything truly helps you become more efficient. Look for technology that integrates with systems and processes your team members already know and use. Make sure the technology also is built for your property management business; having 100 connected Nest thermostats that require 100 different logins and manual resets whenever units turn over will end up costing you more in terms of your time.

Pairing smart-home tech with other software—such as Breezeway, Second Nature, Property Meld, or SightPlan, can help you standardize and modernize receptive processes to maximize efficiency and residents’ happiness. Just make sure the process works well before you digitize it.

Without a doubt, technology is set to play an even larger role in our lives, inside and outside of the home. Look for ways that smart technology can help you keep costs and maintenance efforts down between occupancies. Property managers who invest in upgrades with this new connected reality in mind will more quickly benefit from it.