The Impact of Letting Junk Sit Around Your Multi-Family Community

Do you manage a property where junk magically appears over night? Do you let it sit around or take immediate action? For managers who let it sit, here are a few things to take into consideration:

Resident retention: Let’s face the facts, resident retention is critical to keeping apartments full and is just as, if not more, important as getting new ones. It also drives down costs. The cost of turnover is expensive; in most cases it’s five times more expensive to replace a resident than keep them. This is why making the rental experience positive is so important. But when you think about creating a positive experience, you’re probably not taking into consideration curb appeal created by junk.

Now put yourself in your residents’ shoes, every morning when you leave for work there’s junk laying around the dumpster, when you return that evening those same items are still there, maybe next to a few new items that were tossed throughout the day. The pile gets bigger and bigger until eventually someone is called out to haul everything away. A few days go by and another item pops up, this cycle continues week after week over the course of your lease terms. How would that make you feel? Would you resign if you knew three communities down the street are cleaner? The rates are the same but every time you drive past them you don’t see junk laying around. It’s unsightful, embarrassing and usually leads to other issues. This is even more important for older communities. You’re already competing with the new developments, why give your residents a reason to leave?

Lost opportunities: What’s worse than driving around the property with a prospect and every dumpster you pass has a stained mattress or couch? Some might say pests, but what about the interested prospective resident who never walked into the leasing office because they saw junk laying around? You didn’t even know they were interested because their first impression drove them away. You might have perfect landscaping, new signs, but a few mattresses gave a bad first impression and there’s nothing you can do to get them back. Now think about the prospect that’s between your community and the one down the street. Rent at both communities is the same, you have similar amenities. On paper both places are equal. They make their decision and go with the other community, but why? A mattress. Something as small as a single mattress costed you a new resident. A new resident that could have a network of friends looking for a new place to live.

Community culture: Letting junk sit around the property doesn’t just affect resident retention and curb appeal, it also directly affects the way residents treat the community. If they come home from work every day and see junk outside each dumpster, what do you think they’re going to do if some trash falls out on their way to the dumpster? Probably leave it. In their mind the property is already a mess, what will a few small bags of chips change? A clean community correlates with a clean unit, less pest related issues and maintenance issues.

How to overcome: Take action, have a plan in place for what to do when junk appears. If you don’t have a vendor who offers on demand hauling, have maintenance store items out of sight until you can get someone out.  A 24-hour notice is all you need. Start building a relationship with that vendor and let them know the importance of quick turnaround times. Make sure they know the impact each hour has on retention, new leases, and community culture. Understanding the importance of fulfilling these requests has allowed us to create an on-demand service for every multi-family community we work with. We understand this impact, and plan around your needs to ensure a single mattress doesn’t cost you a lease.

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