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Do You Need a Commercial Property Manager?

September 28, 2021
outdoor signange servis realty

Whether you like it or not, winter is coming.

The most important factor to consider when staring down the barrel of at least 3 months of sub-zero temperatures is preparedness. Here are a few helpful tips that will keep you (and your property) on track and worry free as we move into the holiday season.

 

1. Know your roof’s maximum snow load

When it comes to the weight of snow, the type of snow is as important as the depth of the snow. Fresh powder snow is typically lighter than wet packed snow, and ice is heavier than snow.

There are several contributing factors to the acting load on your roof that include snow drifts from adjacent buildings or mechanical equipment, heavy rain on snow, and melting snow that refreezes.

If you don’t know your roof’s snow load, hire a structural engineer to verify the snow load threshold of the roofing system. This information will be important after an event when determining if there is too much snow on the roof.

 

2. Prevent plumbing from freezing

  • Inspect and seal or repair all cracks, holes, leaks, windows, doors, and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating the wall cavity.
  • Insulate and seal around attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electric and mechanical chases.
  • Make sure your pipes in hard-to-reach places like attics, crawl spaces, and along outside walls are insulated. Wrap pipes and faucets in unheated or minimally heated areas of the building.
  • Make sure your existing freeze-protection devices and alarms are in good working order.
  • Test freeze stats (low temperature sensing device) and valves before the weather gets cold.
  • Pipes leading to the exterior should be shut off and drained at the start of winter. If these exterior faucets do not have a shut-off valve inside the building, have one installed by a plumber.
  • Hire a licensed fire protection specialist to conduct routine maintenance on your sprinkler system. Discuss the systems exposure to winter weather and potential mitigation options.

 3. Winterize your landscaping and irrigation

  • Keep all bushes and trees trimmed and away from the building. Trees with branches near or hanging over your building can damage the roof cover, siding, and windows.
  • Pay particular attention to trees within falling distance of overhead power lines leading into the property. Avoiding a power outage can save a day or two of business interruption.
  • Shut off and drain irrigation systems and outdoor hoses.

 4. Maintain your HVAC system

  • Schedule preventative maintenance and make sure the system is operating properly and efficiently.  Be sure to change any air filters and check that exhaust gases are being ventilated properly.
  • Select a heating system repair service before an unexpected outage or maintenance issue arises mid-season. Loss of heat for even a few hours could significantly disrupt your business during a cold snap.
  • Have someone ready to come quickly – including after hours – and negotiate an emergency rate in advance.

5. Service your generator.

The time to maintain a generator is well before a major snowstorm or disaster strikes (when professional assistance may be unavailable, power lines are down, and access roads are blocked). Backup power can help maintain a consistent building temperature and reduce the risk of freezing pipes leading to business disruption and damage.

 Permanent:

  • Permanent generators should have a proper maintenance plan that includes weekly, monthly, and annual checks. See the manufacturer’s specifications for more information.
  • Run the unit weekly on its maintenance plan to ensure it is properly functioning in case of an emergency. Individual units may have a timer that allows a programmed test to be scheduled. Qualified personnel should oversee these scheduled weekly tests.
  • Check the generator enclosure for loose debris or other conditions that could cause the unit to not function properly.

Portable:

  • Store in a dry location.
  • Set up a maintenance schedule to include periodic test runs for the unit

6. Check your roof and gutters

    Water that does not properly drain off a roof has the potential to freeze, adding to snow load and creating ice dams. Ice dams can add significant additional loads to the roof and could cause interior water damage if left unattended. It is important for your team to maintain the roof drains and gutters.

    Low slope (flat) roofs:

    • Inspect roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Remove all debris and other items from roof and roof drainage systems that prevent drainage of water from the roof during the melting process.
    • Check that all flashing and seals are flush and secure.

    Steep slope roofs:

    • Inspect your roof and repair leaks before winter season.
    • Secure loose shingles.
    • Check roof-edge waterproofing and seal to prevent potential drafts.
    • Add extra insulation in your attic or surrounding areas.

    Gutters:

    • Inspect gutters and ensure they’re secured to the building. Replace any missing gutter fasteners.
    • Clean gutters and interior downspouts thoroughly, removing all debris and unclogging drains.
    • Run test of gutters and downspouts to be sure water does not back up. This can be done by using a hose.
    • Check downspouts to ensure they divert water away from the foundation.

     7. Create a business continuity plan

    • Have a plan for communicating with employees across multiple channels (text, email, phone).
    • Have an emergency/recovery plan that is communicated to employees, customers, clients, delivery, etc.
    • Create a snow and ice removal plan for all roofs and grounds.
    • Plan for emergency snow removal in event of heavy accumulation. Identify and supply proper equipment and check it in advance of predicted snow.
    • Some businesses rely on on-street parking, so develop a back-up plan for nearby off-street parking if the municipality imposes a parking ban on streets (for plows). This occurs more frequently in the north, even hours before snow is expected, so they can pre-treat the roads.
    • Purchase and be ready to add non-slip water absorption mats to all entrances for both your employees and customers to capture water and snow as they enter your business and to minimize slips and falls.
    • Test/practice the plan.

    8. Check your insurance coverage and inventory valuable equipment

    • Know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t
    • Keep your insurance agent’s contact in your phone
    • If you have a loss due to a winter-related event, you’ll have to itemize your losses for your insurance company. Take a complete inventory of your home and store it somewhere safely offsite.

    NOTE: Check in with tenants regarding any maintenance requests or building concerns they may have. Living or working in your commercial property means they are on constant alert to their surroundings. If they see, hear, or smell something, ask that they say something.

    So you’re wondering if you need a property manager. Not all rental properties do. But, if managing your property is causing you confusion or stress, it’s a good idea to consider your options. A commercial property manager will handle the day-to-day management of your building, build relationships with tenants, fill unoccupied spaces quickly, manage the financial accounting of your investment property, and also help you by investigating development opportunities in your area.

    Through their unique knowledge of the commercial sector, they’ll be able to provide you with sound investment advice, if you’re considering expanding your portfolio of commercial properties. They’ll also be able to oversee any major renovations you make or any build-outs you approve for your commercial tenants.

    First, let’s discuss what exactly a property manager does. Then, we’ll dive into some of the reasons you might want to hire one and the different types out there. Lastly, we’ll go over some extra benefits that a property manager can provide.

    What Does a Professional Property Manager Do? 

    Professional property managers can wear many hats. Your property manager’s responsibilities will ultimately depend on your specific needs, however, a property manager can take care of all the tasks associated with running an investment property, from day-to-day tasks to finding new tenants.

    Everyday Tasks

    When it comes to managing a property, you’ve probably noticed that mundane, everyday tasks can add up. Property managers can shorten your to-do list by taking care of things like rent collection, managing the accounting and bookkeeping, scheduling landscaping, and addressing tenant complaints. In other words, they allow your property to become a truly passive source of income.

    Maintenance

    With any luck, your properties won’t need major repairs. Still, it’s inevitable that your tenants will occasionally need the services of a plumber or electrician. If you’ve been on the receiving end of late-night phone calls for maintenance requests, you might be relieved to pass those calls off to a property manager. Property managers have a fully vetted list of contractors at their disposal to take care of all maintenance needs, fast. In other cases, property management companies have their own, in-house maintenance team that they directly manage. In this case, maintenance requests are handled with even more speed and efficiency. With a property manager keeping tabs on your investment, you can also be sure that your property will never fall into disrepair. They’ll make sure that gutters are cleaned, roofs are repaired when needed, and water heaters are inspected, so you won’t have to.

    Finding Tenants

    Finding tenants can be one of the more challenging parts of being a property owner. The process of finding new tenants is time-consuming, frustrating, and stressful. Finding tenants involves conducting market research on rents of comparable properties, completing background and credit checks, asking for references, drafting a new lease, and more. And what happens if your choice of tenant doesn’t pan out? Property managers have the ability and know-how necessary to make this process efficient and effective. Your property will be rented quickly to responsible tenants, making your investment more profitable.

    Handling Legalities

    Unless you are a lawyer, understanding the intricacies of rental laws can be overwhelming. As you probably know, there are specific laws pertaining to tenant and landlord rights on a national, provincial, and local level. If you are managing your property yourself, it’s important to know what your obligations are as a landlord and to stay on top of any changes made to the laws that address these responsibilities. A property manager tracks that information so you don’t have to deal with all the red tape. For example, if your tenant wants to break their lease early, your property manager will know how to proceed based on what local and state laws require of landlords in that situation. In the ever-changing rental climate created by the recent pandemic, it’s become clear that staying up-to-date on renter and landlord rights is crucial.

    Overseeing Capital Improvements and Renovations

    One of the ways you can help your property stay profitable is to occasionally upgrade it. For example, prospective commercial tenants are attracted to properties that feature new, energy-efficient lighting. Having your rental property improved in small ways can allow you to raise rent prices while still attracting tenants. A commercial property manager can oversee the hiring of contractors and any construction necessary. They’ll also be able to help you create a budget for your capital improvements and stick to it.

    Reasons You Might Need a Property Manager 

    While you may be managing your property on your own just fine, there are many reasons why hiring a property manager may be the right decision for you.

    *This isn’t Your Only Job

    If you have a “day job,” you have to place a premium on your personal time. A nine-to-five job takes up enough of your life. Hiring a property manager will free up your time, allowing you to earn money on your property without overcrowding your schedule.

    *You’re a New Real Estate Investor

    If you’re new to the world of real estate investment, the learning curve can be steep. From learning how to conduct market research to developing a network of trusted maintenance workers, there’s a lot to take on. Hiring a property manager can relieve you of the stress that comes with learning a new trade. Plus, you’ll avoid the pitfalls that can come with being a new landlord, saving you money in the long run.

    *You’re Having a Hard Time Finding Renters

    If you’re having a difficult time filling vacancies, a property manager can help you out. A property manager can handle the leasing process from start to finish. First, they’ll know the rental market that you’re dealing with. They’ll know how and where to market to renters. They’ll also know how to price your rental properties so that renters feel like they’re getting a fair deal and you’re making a profit. Then, they’ll oversee a deep cleaning of your property, stage it so it’s attractive to potential renters, and make sure any and all cosmetic repairs are completed before potential renters come to visit. After leading a series of showings, they’ll be able to help select potential tenants and gather all the necessary background checks, credit reports, and rental histories needed to make sure you’re renting to reliable tenants.

    *Your Properties Are Far Away

    Many landlords first get into real estate investment in their 20s and 30s. Eventually, those young investors grow older and many move away from their investment properties, making the job of being a good landlord a bit more complicated. In this instance, hiring a professional property manager is the perfect solution. A local property manager will be able to keep tabs on your property, stay up to date on local market changes, and be your eyes and ears on the ground so you can sit back and relax.

    *You Own Large Properties or Multiple Properties

    If you’ve been a real estate investor for some time, you may own multiple properties or even whole buildings. The administrative work, maintenance, rent collection, and leasing of multiple properties can swamp even the most seasoned landlord. A property manager will keep your investments on track and will prevent anything from slipping through the cracks. With their experience in real estate, they may also serve as a good resource if you are looking to expand your portfolio, as well. Having an organized, numbers-focused property manager on your team can prove to be handy when you’re growing your rental property business policies and bylaws.

    Property Managers Handle More Than You Think

    In addition to their standard list of responsibilities, property management companies are capable of managing more than you think. In fact, Buildium’s 2021 Rental Owners’ Report shows that some rather  unexpected services experienced a large jump in demand over the past two years. Between 2019 and 2021, services like accounting, bookkeeping and taxes; financial reporting and benchmarking; and property inspections all became more desirable to property owners. You may be surprised to know that property managers can do all of these things.

    Effective And Efficient Property Marketing

    Before listing a vacant property, experienced property managers will conduct market research and develop a strategy for attracting prospective clients. With an exhaustively researched plan in place, your property will be leased quickly, making your vacancy periods short.

    Finding Quality Tenants

    Once your property is listed, property managers can help find the perfect tenant. An experienced property manager will have a well-organized tenant screening process that catches any red flags. Your property manager will also be fully up to date on fair housing laws, assuring that your property is rented fairly and legally. Lastly, once a qualified tenant has been selected, your property manager will draft a new lease and finish the leasing process.

    Less Tenant Turnover

    You may consider yourself an excellent landlord, and you are probably right! But, many tenants are attracted to properties that are overseen by property managers. This frequently has to do with the fact that property managers are experts at marketing properties, meaning they’ll know how to attract tenants. But just as importantly, properties that are managed by a property manager tend to experience a lower tenant turnover rate. This is largely due to the fact that property managers are quick to respond to emergency and maintenance requests, are good communicators, and are mindful of the unique needs of tenants. Through their excellent customer service, property managers are able to keep tenants happy and content, leading to tenants resigning their leases. Rentals that experience less tenant turnover are less frequently relisted, making them more profitable.

    No More Cash Flow Issues

    With a competent property manager on board, your property should be a lucrative money maker. Happy tenants make their payments on time and frequently resign their leases. Routine maintenance checks conducted by your property manager will help you avoid any surprise (read: pricey)  repairs. Additionally, with a low turnover rate and low vacancy period, your rental property will stay profitable. Property managers will, of course, charge a fee for their services. However, a property management fee is typically well worth the cost considering the money-making benefits of utilizing a property manager’s services.

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