A recent online survey conducted by RentShare found that even though convenience features like in-suite laundry facilities and access to parking still score high among tenants, the biggest pet peeve of the modern renter is not having access to quality services.
“Along with a solid management team, amenities and top-notch services are truly the difference-makers when it comes to retention,” says Trish Macpherson, VP Sales and Marketing at CAPREIT. “The key is to not only listen to the wants and needs of your residents, but to be constantly evolving and experimenting as well.”
With increased environmental awareness coupled with advances in technology, it’s no wonder today’s property management landscape looks very different than it did only a decade ago. Above and beyond the draw of traditional service offerings, apartment dwellers expect their properties to have a line-up of condo-quality services that simplify the rental experience while making life a bit more enjoyable.
Advancements in digital storage have made it easier and more cost effective to take operations online, which in return, reduces paper usage. “Making the move to paperless record-keeping has actually made us more organized,” says Michael Holmes, President & Chief Operating Officer, Larlyn Property Management Ltd. “It’s much easier to quickly access information we need without having to sort through mountains of paper or filing cabinets.”
An online portal where renters can pay their rent, open maintenance requests and connect with each other is another desirable feature. PropertyVista, a Canadian web-based property management software developer, launched an online tenant portal to much fanfare and success. PropertyVista’s online portal allows property managers to send out information to residents about events and activities on-site; follow up on requests for services; and even allow potential residents to fill out applications—all without the need for paper.
“The number one request from our renters was for an online option to pay rent,” says Holmes. “Since we’ve added the PropertyVista portal, we’ve received numerous happy reviews for both the convenience and the ease of use. It’s also a huge selling point for potential renters trying to decide between a few different properties. The one with the online portal will win nine times out of ten.”
Providing quality gyms
Having a fitness centre integrated into the property is a huge selling point for potential renters, but really, it’s what’s inside that fitness centre that counts. At 33 Davisville Avenue in Toronto, CAPREIT transformed a large, unused basement space into Striation 6 Exercise and Performance Centre, a revolutionary gym for the city’s midtown neighbourhood. Boasting fitness equipment that is exclusive to the facility, a team of professionals that hold some truly impressive fitness credentials, and a pay-per-use system, Striation 6 has become a runaway hit not just for CAPREIT residents, but for the entire Yonge/Davisville community.
“The addition of Striation 6 has had a profound impact on this property,” Macpherson says. “We recognized that an amenity such as this should be open to the public, not just our residents. Now residents from other properties in the area are able to use this unique fitness centre without being tied down to a monthly gym membership.”
Using common areas well
Adding artwork to the common areas of an apartment complex can bring a little bit of luxury home. Many property managers have already incorporated art into the interior of their buildings, but asset and property management company Greenwin Inc. has gone one step further by taking art installations to the streets. At 30 Carabob Ct., David Binder, the architect who designed the restoration, and president of the company that owns the building, commissioned Toronto-based artist Harley Valentine to install the permanent sculptures that now grace the lawn of the property.
“Harley Valentine is renowned for his colourful and creative pieces,” explains Binder. “We wanted to bring a bit of that artistic energy home for our residents and to enhance the resident/pedestrian experience of the newly restored and reconfigured site. Each piece tells a story and now our building tells a story, too.”
Indeed, seeing beautiful art installations like the 30 Carabob Quartet, as the piece has been dubbed by Valentine, is a rarity in the rental space. Commissioning sculptures, particularly ones created by local talents with global reach, instantly enlivens a property in a truly innovative way. The sculptures at 30 Carabob Ct. have already generated a buzz throughout the neighbourhood, with many non-residents stopping by to view them. “The art is so unique to the area – it really has people talking,” says Binder. “We’re proud that they are here for our residents to call part of their home.”
Jessica Green is the founder of Cursive, a Toronto-based communications consulting firm that specializes in brand messaging with an emphasis on digital media strategy in the real estate sector.