Wednesday, August 27, 2014

September 1st Move-In: Guide For Your Sanity and Tenant's Safety

Tips for landlords and property managers to have a safe and smooth move marathon while avoiding common mishaps for tenants and HOA members.

It's almost September 1st and this means the time has come for many to pack up and move on to their new homes.  From our past experiences as landlords and property managers, we've combined a list of helpful tips for move-in day.

Tenants have hopefully avoided rental scams that we detailed in our article how to spot rental scams on the internet. If you're like us, you've probably accumulated a lot of things, and will be leaving your former residence with even more boxes than you came in with.  Start organizing your belongings and your moving day game plan in advance!

Possible Issues for Moving Day in Boston and Other Large Cities

Whether you are the landlord, property manager, a new tenant, or an existing tenant, your sanity and safety can be difficult to maintain - especially if you're living in a Boston condo management property or other large city with a high-turnover period at the start of September. 

If you are implementing official Rules and Regulations for moving, consider the unfamiliarity new residents will have with building facilities and policies.  Addressing them in advance may mitigate the stress and chaos of the day.

Nightmare examples of a chaotic move-in without rules and regulations!
  • Belongings and valuables (or even your rented truck) being stolen while unsupervised. 
  • Tenants getting stuck in the elevator while moving their heavy furniture. 
  • Parking tickets and tow trucks removing double-parked vehicles. 
  • Former tenants who left a mess - or have left themselves past their lease expiration.

Communication between the landlord or property manager with tenants is a great opportunity to build an open relationship for a successful tenancy. 

As a landlord, HOA board member, or property manager, you may run into these issues:
  • Improper or overwhelming disposal of furniture, trash, personal belongings, etc. 
  • Issuance of fines from the City as a result of excess garbage or noise complaints.
  • BED BUGS – this is the number one time of year for infestations.
  • Unwanted persons entering your building while doors are not closed or secured. 
  • Tenants moving at all hours of the day. 
  • Damage to walls and doors that are unprotected or propped open.
  • Elevator wall and mechanism damage.
  • Hostility or confrontations between residents. 

What to Communicate to Tenants Before Move-In Day

To maintain order amongst the influx of heavy foot traffic, it is imperative to prepare by giving all of your staff and residents (current and incoming) information well before August 31st.  Think: "Happy Fourth!  Here are our moving rules."
  • Communicate process and procedures in writing.
  • Clearly state times and areas for staging and moving trucks. 
  • Provide Move-In/Out Checklists to all of your tenants.
  • Give information packets with Resident Handbooks and Renters Insurance brochures to your incoming tenants. 

Tips to Beat the Rush

The basic laws of supply and demand are tested over the Labor Day week.  If you wait until the last minute to find an available mover or janitorial company, you will end up finding yourself out of luck. 
  • Suggest tenants reserve their moving trucks well before 9/1.
  • Offer early move-in options when possible.
  • Make sure dumpsters are empty.
  • Book extra janitorial staffers to address trash overflow.
  • Book early to lock in at lower rates before demand increases.
You will get fined for leaving trash in the street, and let's not even remind ourselves of the potential pest issues that could follow.  In the following weeks, it's hard for waste management companies to remove the debris and bulky items that are mixed and heaping over the top of a dumpster; some companies will refuse removal if they can't access the receptacle. Prepare early and expect the worst.

Safety & Regulations Move-In Checklist

To ensure the well-being of all parties involved during move-in, review your preparation memorandums for all residents and property management staff.

This should include information on:
  • Responsibility for tenants, guests, and contractors
  • Handbook/rules and regulation reminders 
  • Requests for copies of leases and/or apartment condition statements
  • Mailbox tag and intercom instruction
  • Trash/recycling reminders 
  • Elevator reminders 
  • Your contact info

How to Handle High Turn-Over Locations

For high-turnover locations, post a specialized memo that is specific to the actual rules & regulations of that location. Remember, communication is key to maintain order on move-in day.
  • Assign a monitor to the highest turnover locations, for example; a superintendent, maintenance tech, trustee, or occasionally a police officer. 
  • Use signs to direct residents to which elevator or door they should use for moving. 
  • All preferred access points for moves must be clearly marked. 
  • Include signage for areas where tenants can not move through, for example the lobby or main entrance.

Elevator and Door Safety on Move-In Day

In many old brownstones, tenants are often surprised to find that the elevators are shut down on move-in day. The small passenger elevators cannot withstand the weight and frequency, and in order to avoid repairs due to improper overuse, landlords will often shut them down – even to top floor residents.

For elevators that are in use, repeatedly holding the door open or sticking your arm out to stop the closure is obviously dangerous to your body, but can easily throw the elevator out of alignment and break it. Trust us, the last thing you want is to get stuck in an elevator full of your belongings with a group of sweaty moving personnel.

Additional building safety tips include:
  • Distribute moving rules and regulations to all residents and off site property owners or landlords.  Don't forget to include a clear fine schedule for rule infractions. 
  • Adequately display notices posted around common areas and slide notices under doors. 
  • Makes sure tenants do not block egresses during moving times.  
  • Keep fire hydrants accessible at all times. 
  • Propped doors require a security monitor to prevent unwanted guests or intruders. 
  • Install or check that security systems/cameras are functional. 

Help Wanted: Clean up, Movers, & Extra Hired Help

The tenants can't do it all themselves, and that's okay. The convenience for additional help provided to the tenants moving in will help bring relief and start the tenant/manager relationship off right.

Tips on hiring extra help and cleaning up after move-in:
  • Trash/janitorial contractors should sweep the properties repeatedly that weekend, in addition to their normal contractual obligations. 
  • Depending on the amount of units you have turning over, you may want to rent an additional rack truck for trash removal of your own. 
  • Hired movers are the responsibility of the tenants/owners, but you should consider requesting proof of the moving company's insurance policies. Make sure the certificate names the property additionally insured.  Some condominium buildings will actually require properly insured movers to facilitate a tenant's transition. 
  • Incur the expense of hiring dedicated staff and do it early.  Hiring the same staff every year is ideal so they are familiar with the building and policies.

Final Thoughts on Move-In Day

Preparation is key for ensuring a successful move in for all parties. Investing in a clean up crew, in-house movers, and security will keep the process clean as well as moving smoothly. Did we forget a key tip for landlords and property managers to add to their checklist or guidelines for high turnover days like Sept. 1?

Tell us your thoughts or share your checklists!

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