No Excuses: Five Good Ways for Property Owners to be Neighborhood Advocates, Too

Very few absentee slumlords started out in life as absentee slumlords.

Deteriorating property values lead to deteriorating returns – and no one really comes out on top.

But being a landlord is not exactly an easy ride either, even in the best of times. Let’s take a look at nine easy ways you can get involved in your community, and reap the rewards of doing so. You really don’t need to run for city council to beef up your properties’ values and to keep your tenants in place.

These are Five Ways to Start Being a Neighborhood Advocate and not just another landlord.

1) Be a Property Manager – Not an Owner!  

“Landlord” is just four letters away from “slumlord.” So why tempt the comparison?  Even if you’re renting out mostly higher-end properties, call yourself for what you’re doing, not for what you are. And present yourself that way too. You’re here reading this so let’s assume you’re already interested in the field. Rather than just owning, start managing. Owners may think of themselves as lords, but few of them will profit from doing so.

2) Manage Your Neighborhood

That doesn’t mean you go out and start bossing the neighbors around, though that would be funny. On the contrary, imagine buying that property and moving in. No matter where it is, you’re going to be involved. Rather than ruling “in absentia”, you need to manage your property’s relationship to a broader community. The more properties you’re managing, the more involved you need to be.

3. Know thine Neighbor

It doesn’t mean knocking on their doors. It doesn’t mean getting involved in their lives. Say hello. Perhaps when the place is new, leave a business card. Ask questions when you are in the neighborhood and introduce yourself as the property manager. There is no end to benefits you can receive from knowing people and from letting them know you. And to the greatest extent possible, manage your properties’ online presence to be involved with the community. Promote neighboring businesses and organizations and do some word-of-mouth work on their behalf.

4. Study Neighborhood Associations

Co-op boards, ownership groups, crime watch and community redevelopment organizations are all valuable sources of information. They come from people looking for exactly the same things you want: better tenants, better rents and better resale values. Those things come from better families, safer streets and more community – not from paranoid cynicism.

5. Organize Events, Regularly

That can mean block parties, wine tastings or coffee breaks with Danishes. You know who’s living there and what they prefer. Regularly means once or twice a year and probably not more. But suddenly you really are managing. If you own one to five properties, you might be merely attending events. But with more than five properties, you need to be deeply involved in organizing them and promoting them. It’s only going to help, and being a manager, you’ve always got a good reason to show up.

All of the above is not necessarily something totally simple to accomplish. Organizing and hosting events take some time and some money. Then again, all of the above is also something you should expect from a good, and good-sized property management firm. It’s not just about collecting the rent, but also about protecting the investment. Protecting a rental property always comes down to making it livable and making the neighborhood livable too.