Blog June 12, 2018

How can multifamily property managers tackle student turn?

By Chris Vroman

As a multifamily property manager with communities near schools and universities, many of your leases revolve around the academic calendar. When schools release students for the year, it’s the perfect time to evaluate how mobile inspection services can help minimize the effect of student turn.

On an episode of “Building Success: A Real Estate Podcast,” Ben Chadwell and Ray Campbell from Happy Co. stopped by to discuss the time period between May and August when 70% of student housing turnovers occur. There are a lot of parties to manage in this process — relationships with residents, staff, vendors, and parents of residents are all in flux during this time. But if your processes are out of date or if you’re caught unprepared, the student turn could be problematic for your multifamily properties.

The best way to prepare for this season is to…

  • Inspect apartments proactively
  • Get paper out of your processes
  • Implement mobile inspection software

Be proactive about apartment inspections

According to Chadwell and Campbell, the best student housing communities are the ones that understand that while the student turn physically takes place in the summer months, the turn is a constant season.

The majority of inspections and maintenance repairs may take place during the turn, but the success of your multifamily properties shouldn’t have to rest on the shoulders of these few months. The act of proactively inspecting and repairing units throughout the year makes the student turn far more manageable for multifamily property owners.

During the months of the student turn, hundreds of units will need to be inspected. What happens many times is that units that have not been proactively serviced may have unexpected property damage, malfunctioning equipment, and other damage recovery incidents. These issues lead to unforeseen move-in and move-out disputes, and at that point, residents and the parents of residents get involved. This creates more problems, especially if your processes for inspecting units and recording those results are out of date.

Get paper out of your processes

Conducting and recording the results of inspections on paper often leads to inefficiencies and errors, and while many multifamily properties still use paper-based inspections, that number is shrinking. Relying on this manual process has many negative repercussions:

  • Delays repair of units
  • Hinders your ability to fulfill security deposit refunds quickly
  • Lowers property visibility through lost documentation
  • Adds an extra layer of communication between property level staff and leasing staff that often leads to errors.

Conducting inspections with a paper-based system exposes your processes to more errors, delays and inefficiencies that begin to pile up during the student turn. Staying on top of regular maintenance may take some of the pressure off, but if you’re relying on paper, things are still going to go wrong. You need a comprehensive solution to truly master the turn.

Implement mobile inspection services

Mobile inspection services aren’t just crucial to helping you get through the student turn – they’re vital to ensuring your success as a multifamily property manager.

By utilizing this type of process – one that can be taken on-the-go, uploaded to a central database, and still works offline – you can drive compliance higher and realize time savings.

Mobile inspections help you collect rock-solid documentation of apartment conditions at both move-in and move-out so that the number of resident disputes is reduced and your team will be able to effectively resolve those disputes quickly when they do arise. Implementing mobile inspection software with easy form customization capabilities can help streamline the inspection process while providing more helpful details at the same time.

With mobile inspection tools, you can also utilize forecasting analytics to track property progress between portfolios and benchmarks. These tools are designed to maximize the control you have over your multifamily properties by bringing them under one platform, centralizing the core processes of multifamily property management and making it easier to master the student turn than ever before.

The most successful multifamily property managers understand that while the student turn may only last a few months, the season itself is never truly over, and proactive maintenance aided by mobile inspection services can make all the difference. To learn more about the student turn and how your multifamily property can prepare, check out episode six of “Building Success: A Real Estate Podcast” and download Happy Co.’s 7 Essential Strategies to Nail the Perfect Student Turn.

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