As any longtime landlord can attest, there’s a world of difference between maintaining single-family and multi-family properties. Whereas you may be able to personally deal with any maintenance or management associated with the former, the latter will require outside help and a greater time commitment. So, whether you’ve exclusively managed single-family properties or have no experience with rental properties in general, you’ll need to do your homework before taking on a multi-family property.
Hire a Dependable Maintenance Staff
Maintenance is important to multi-family rental properties for a variety of reasons. For starters, proper groundskeeping is needed to ensure that plant life flourishes, grass gets mowed and the exterior of the property remains pleasant to look at. Secondly, every unit on the property is going to require some degree of individual maintenance. Whether it’s an electrical, plumbing or structural problem, your renters are going to expect that any maintenance issue they encounter will be addressed in a timely and professional manner. So, when exploring multi-family rental investment opportunities, you’d do well to ascertain how much maintenance each property will require and determine monthly upkeep costs.
It behooves every landlord to hire a dependable maintenance staff. The more units a rental property encompasses, the more maintenance personnel you’ll need to recruit. The ideal team member will be well-versed in a variety of maintenance tasks and be adept at dealing with tenants on an individual level. After all, even the most experienced team member is liable to garner complaints if they’re discourteous when interacting with renters.
Never Sit on Maintenance Requests
Addressing maintenance requests is a large part of managing any rental property – and this is doubly true for multi-family properties. When managing a single-family property, you’re liable to find that maintenance requests are few and far between. Conversely, landlords overseeing multi-family properties are likely to find themselves met with multiple maintenance requests each day.
Needless to say, renters generally don’t take kindly to landlords who regard maintenance requests as afterthoughts. Depending on the nature and scope of the maintenance issue at hand, a unit may be outright uninhabitable until such time as the issue is fixed. So, to avoid drawing the ire of your renters and keeping your property in prime condition, never place maintenance requests on the backburner.
Of course, this isn’t to say that every maintenance request should be treated with equal importance. For example, a stuck cabinet door and an overflowing toilet are far from the same thing. As such, maintenance requests should be addressed on the basis of severity as opposed to the order in which they’re received – especially if you have limited staff to spare. Still, tenants should always be informed that their requests have been received and provided with a reasonable timetable for when they can expect maintenance staff to show up. You can also nip a wide range of maintenance requests in the bud by conducting regular property and equipment inspections.
Work with a Professional Property Manager
Not all landlords regard property ownership and management as their full-time occupation. In fact, many landlords have day jobs that are unrelated to their respective rental properties. Additionally, not all landlords are necessarily cut out to be property managers. If either of these examples describe your situation, you stand to benefit from working with a professional property manager.
Your property manager will essentially act as your proxy and make a wide range of management decisions on your behalf. Furthermore, they will take charge of virtually every aspect of managing the property, including processing maintenance requests, collecting rent and mediating conflicts between renters. However, this isn’t to say that hiring a good property manager will absolve you of any and all responsibility. So, to help ensure that you’re kept in the loop, get daily updates from your property manager and have them contact you immediately whenever an emergency arises.
While there are some similarities between single-family rentals and multi-family properties, managing the latter involves a lot more work. So, if your experience with rental properties is limited to single-family dwellings, investing in a multi-family property isn’t a decision to make lightly. Committing to purchase a multi-family property without putting in the proper prep work stands to lose you a fortune and facilitate a serious case of buyer’s remorse. Real estate investors who are interested in owning multi-family rental properties would do well to remember the tips discussed above.