First impressions matter, so doing what you can to make a lasting positive one, especially if you’re a property manager or owner of a rental investment, is important. For rentals, the effort to make the move easy and convenient and show off your community’s prime location determines how likely a tenant will renew their lease. For associations, this is a perk that, in addition to other amenities provided by the community, will set you apart from others and make future home sales easier.
Whether you’re part of a large management company with thousands of units, a small self-managed community, or a real estate investor managing your own rental properties, here are some things to consider adding to your welcome kit.
Make sure your welcome package includes the following for your new owners or tenants:
- Welcome Letter
- Governing Documents and Management Company/Board Information
- Utility Information
- Forms and City/State documents
- Take out menus and coupons (or better yet, a gift card) for local restaurants
- A Personalized Note with Recommendations
- Small housewarming gifts
- Housekeeping Necessities with cleaning tips
First, attend to some business
1. Welcome Letter
Your Welcome Letter should include important association contact information and other FAQ’s. Add your office and clubhouse hours, names of staff, contact information for office, maintenance emergency number, non-emergency number for your local police department as well as association security, rent or dues payment options and instructions (if you have a website portal, provide information on how to create an account), and social media pages to follow.
Some new residents may not be aware of all your great amenities, so be sure to list what’s available and information regarding hours of operation and rules.
2. Governing Documents and Management Company/Board Information
Certainly, not the most exciting part of a welcome kit for a new owner or tenant, but important to know nonetheless. Sooner rather than later is to make sure your new residents are aware of the community rules and regulations. This is a good time to emphasize some common issues, like alterations to the exterior of the property, as well as pet, leasing/subleasing and vehicle restrictions, without having to resort to giving a citation for code violations.
Even though most states require that a homebuyer receives your governing documents before closing, most buyers simply don’t take the time or don’t have the time to read them all. They also may be given outdated information.
Take some time to educate your new residents and set clear expectations on what living in the community means.
Introduce your management company as well as the board and/or committee members.
3. Utility Information
Clarify which if any utilities are provided and maintained by the community. Provide information on how to set up utilities with the proper providers.
4. Forms and City/State documents
Be sure to include any forms that you need the resident to fill out and return to comply with your association’s rules as well as forms that they’ll need to keep.
Some forms or documents to remember include:
- Voter Registration
- Pet and/or Car Registration
- Lease Agreements – a copy of their signed lease for tenants or short term rentals and leasing information for owners
- Owner/Tenant Contact Information
- Fair Housing Ordinances
- Any other certifications or forms required by your city, county, or state
Then make it fun
Include both a map of the community and a local map of the general area to help your new residents get their bearings.
Here’s a list of free tools to create your own map! Be sure to add this to your resident portals. You can use these apps to create a customized map with highlighted areas and recommendations, and may also make it easy to get the community involved in adding their recommendations.
7. Personal Recommendations
Have your staff members create a list of their favorite places in town. Include your favorite restaurants, bars, parks, museums, and other local places of interest. This is a great way to introduce a new tenant or owner to their neighborhood and help them get to know the staff better.
If you decide to create an interactive map, be sure to add these recommendations to it.
8. Small Housewarming gifts
A restaurant gift card to accompany your personal recommendations is a thoughtful gesture. We all know how difficult and exhausting moving can be. So taking the guesswork out of where to eat after a long day is an amazing gift. It’s also a great way to get your new tenants to experience the local businesses, emphasize the great location of your property, and increase retention.
Some other ideas for a small housewarming gift include:
- Easy to care for houseplants
- Kitchen items like mugs
- Baked goods and other snacks
- Bottled water in the fridge
- Picture frame with a simple welcome message
If there is an industry or product that your area is well known for, include a little gift related to it. If your residents are over 21, wine from a local winery or beer from a well-loved brewery would be a great way to help them unwind are a long day of unpacking!
Add Helpful Homeowner or Tenant Tips
9.Housekeeping Necessities with cleaning tips
For long-term rentals, many of your tenants may be living on their own for the first time, especially if you’re in a college town. These young adults might not be aware of some simple cleaning tips, like how to remove stains from carpet with baking soda and club soda. Even for older residents, including some tips along with cleaning items and necessities is a great idea. Especially, if you’ve added red wine to the welcome basket.
Some kitchen and bathroom necessities to consider adding include:
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
- All-purpose cleaner
- Mop and bucket
This is a perfect opportunity to direct them to a survey to get feedback on anything that matters to you and your staff. Ask questions on what sort of activities they would be interested in or how their onboarding experience was. People are far more likely to respond to requests like this after you’ve presented them with a welcome kit like this. You can ask them to fill out a survey and return it to the office or follow up with an email to the resident with a link to a survey after dropping off the welcome kit.
This is also a great time to see if they’d be interested in becoming a more active part of the community. Perhaps they are interested in volunteering on a committee or being a board member.
Presenting the kit to the new owners
This is a great opportunity to connect with the new owners in person and to get contact information in a non-threatening way. It’s a chance to spark a conversation to learn where they work and a good emergency number. This is important information to gather should some issues arise in the future and the owner or tenant falls behind in payments. Of course, you don’t want to pry, so remain friendly and avoid asking for sensitive information like social security numbers.
Some property managers worry about how new residents will integrate into their community and if they have intentions to use the property for criminal activity. While you should be doing the due diligence of standard background checks, use this opportunity as a way to get to know them, not conduct an inquisition. You should be mindful of how being too invasive may be a Fair Housing Act violation and respect their privacy.
Whatever you decide to include in your welcome package, be sure that it’s something useful for your resident and helps reinforce that they made the right decision by choosing to live in your community.
If your association has a website, make all important information and documents that you include in the welcome kit accessible on your resident portal.