If there’s one bad thing about just renting lots, it’s probably the lack of control over the homes. Sure, you can have a lease agreement that requires residents to keep up their spaces, but that’s easier to demand than to enforce. Unless you’re threatening every tenant who doesn’t maintain their space with eviction, you might feel like your hands are tied.
But in my experience, I’ve found that residents are more willing to work with you when you help them out as well. Incentives work better than threats. Create an incentive to get your residents to upgrade their homes—and, in return, boost the value of your park.
Incentivizing with Simple Supplies
There’s a philosophy I apply to most park improvements. Offer a little, get a lot. You offer cheap, do-it-yourselves upgrades to residents and they’re more likely to take advantage of them because they don’t have to spend the money. Some suggestions:
- Offer landscaping and maintenance tools: Residents might not have the stuff they need to make repairs or work outside. Having a community shed may be all you need to get residents to pick up their yards. Just make sure to keep it locked and have a sign out policy.
- Buy paint: Paint is cheaper in bulk and buying it for your tenants may get them to paint their houses, which immediately improves the neighborhood. Painting is one of the fastest, cheapest fixes I know.
- Schedule a cleanup day: If residents have junk in their yards, schedule a cleanup day and offer large trash removal by renting dumpsters. Most residents don’t have stuff like old furniture in their yards because they want it there, they usually just don’t know where to get rid of it. Give them a place to dump it and they’ll use it.
- Use your front office for recommendations: Have business cards and brochures in your front office for home repair services specific to mobile parks. If you have contractors you know and trust, this is a good place to give them a venue.
It’s like that old adage, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him forever.” You offer the resident the tools they need to make repairs, they’re more likely to make them. However, there are some upgrades that might be a bit too expensive for you to supply. For that, sometimes a suggestion is all you need.
Showing Them What’s in It for Them
You can’t do everything for your tenants, but you can help offer solutions to common problems. If you have a community newsletter, it doesn’t hurt to share news about important tax incentives and rebates for home upgrades. I like to use windows as an example because they offer the best return. New windows will immediately give the property an upgraded appearance. At the same time, your tenants may stand to save more than they spend.
Say your tenants were to replace three standard windows on their mobile home with energy efficient ones. Generally, these types of windows start at about $120 apiece, for a total bill of $360. However, because they put in those energy efficient windows, they’re allowed to take a tax credit of up to $200 per window for their federal taxes. That’s not the only benefit they’ll get either. Many electric companies will offer rebates, usually around $200 to $ 600, for improving energy efficiency. And, the tenant’s overall energy bills go down. That’s what energy efficient windows do after all.
In the end, those windows become as big an incentive for my tenants as they are for me. So let them know about these programs and keep brochures on them in the front office. It doesn’t hurt to have the business cards of one or two people who sell the right types of windows. This is a way to indirectly incentivize tenants. Of course, if you really want to incentivize them, you might want to try the direct approach.
Get Tenants on Board with Awards Programs
Rental discount programs are some of the biggest incentives I know of, and they don’t even have to cost a lot. People just love to save money—and they like recognition. Having contests for ‘the nicest property’ or ‘the best garden’ that offer rental discounts can get your tenants to pick up their properties. While you might have to invest a small amount, this will pay dividends.
This of it this way. You offer a 10% discount for the winner of ‘the cleanest yard’ contest. On a $400 per month rent, you just paid $40 to get a crowd of your tenants to clean up their yards.
Awards programs get residents cleaning up for more than one reason. First, they want to win and second, as others clean up their properties, they’ll feel more conspicuous if they don’t. Just make sure your tenants know about these awards programs. Have your manager produce a community newsletter, or use a website to advertise. Put up signs as well. Once you have the residents participating, you can beautify your park and boost its value.
Well-maintained parks with established happy residents sell better than poorly maintained parks with empty lots for obvious reasons. No one wants to buy a problem park. You need to get your residents on your side if you want to maintain your park’s value.
If you think you’re ready to take the plunge and flip your park for a profit, contact me. I give a fair valuation and offer a seamless transition for residents. I don’t buy parks to close them, but to run them and continue your community. For more information, give me a call or shoot me an email.