When tenants complain about rent increases and engage in vilifying their landlords, taking to the streets in protest, what they are not taking into consideration are the escalating costs in water, sewage, property and other such taxes which have become quite the burden on landlords.
There certainly is a way to save money and not sacrifice the well-being and maintenance of a building and that is through Technology. Though some more traditional landlords may bristle at the word technology, we will examine a few common areas in property management that are essential to a properly maintained and successfully run building:
There have been stories in the news of tenants complaining about the supposedly Orwellian nature of surveillance cameras in the buildings in which they are. Usually, when a management company, in conjunction with the landlord’s approval, agrees to install cameras it is for that extra sense of security. In terms of safety, a building’s security is amplified when there are cameras installed. They can be vital in terms of catching crimes that may have occurred in a building. Several years ago, in one of the buildings R.E.M. Residential manages, a case of domestic violence had tragically taken a murderous end and the culprit was caught within days with the used of security cameras strategically installed throughout the building. On a not so nefarious note is the practical use of cameras in surveying what goes on in the building. When tenants have claimed false slip and falls or other such allegations, our insurance premiums were wont to go up. However, through cameras, we have caught spurious claims and stopped them before we were dragged through lawsuits and our insurance skyrocketing.
We like to think of a superintendent with the eyes and ears of a building, yet even the most diligent superintendent cannot be everywhere at once. Cameras can help save money for landlords through surveying illegal sublets as well.
Compliance And Violations
With the influx of companies that now provide instant notifications of landlords and property management companies regarding the violation and other complaints from tenants, the time usually needed to correct a violation or dispute one can be drastically reduced. More importantly, the fines attached to these violations can be reduced as well. What often happens in mail addressed to property management companies may get delayed in delivering because of the entity names associated with each respective owner. This causes confusion and a backlog for some mail deliverers and for any landlord, time is money. Rather than waiting for mail that may or may not is delivered to your office in a timely manner, you can get a notification through city agencies that were never issued to landlords for overpaid violations and other fines.
Electronic key fobs are a highly effective means of maintaining and securing a building. Though one may initially be hesitant to depart from using the traditional lock and key system and installing a high-tech, remotely-controlled key system, the results of using key fobs will certainly change that. They are instrumental in ways akin to the use of security cameras in your buildings. When we have tenants sign a lease, only those whose names appear on the lease are issued key. This helps in exposing those that illicitly rent out rooms and subsequently, illegal tenants.
Like the electronic key fob system, some property owners may be hesitant to embrace computerized heat and boiler controls. The initial costs of set up and installation can be daunting. However, the long-term returns are well worth it. Despite last year’s winter being a particularly brutal one, our building with computerized controls actually maintained saving of up to 40% on fuel compared to the previous year. Through online boiler monitoring, landlords and property managers reduce unnecessarily fuel consumption, which often happens when the “superintendent affect” kicks in. Often times, when a building superintendent leaves the building for a few hours of goes away for the weekend, for example, they turn up the settings of the boiler or even put it on bypass, unbeknownst to the landlord. This eliminates tenant complaints and headaches for the superintendent but for an owner, this also eliminates profit and revenue.
When the temperature is controlled remotely via computers by the management company, rather than manually by the superintendent, an owner knows precisely how much fuel is being consumed at any given time, what the temperature is in the building throughout the day and gives them an overall sense of ease.
Yet another benefit of installing heat/boiler controls is the prevention of water loss, which any landlord knows can add up to high costs. In the event of a return line leak, being alerted by the system allows us to address the problem sooner rather than later.
We have examined a few ways in which technology can help your building and investment run smoothly and become lucrative in the process. As Bill Gates’ Golden Rule ordains, “The first rule of any technology used in business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.” When an owner has their prised property in the hands of a trustworthy and transparent management company, that comprises the first step. To make the entire operation work and sustain itself at profit, the onus should ultimately fall upon management.
Rick Elezi and Aida Gashi
36 West 37th Street, 8th Floor.
New York, NY 100018