4 Steps for building a community

June 2, 2022
By
Hococo

How can rental property managers build communities?

When you're trying to build a healthy community among your residents, it can be hard to know where to start. Deciding the correct strategy, planning and preparation requires time, but these 4 steps will help you get going.

Communities are the backbone of our society. You can find them everywhere; in flat buildings, workplaces, schools, and clubs. But what exactly is a community? A community is a group of people who live together, or share certain values, or characteristics. Usually we think of communities as being built around a sense of belonging, shared values, and a sense of place — all of which can be extremely powerful motivators. A community that's built around a common interest, like a passion for recycling or eco-living, can bring people together and bond them.

The cohesiveness of a community is often reflected in the built environment where it lives, from the architecture to the structure of how the shared facilities are used and co-ordinated. When we think about building communities in rental properties, we often think in terms of a single building, with many different units. But a community can also be made up of a group of buildings, which are all owned by a single owner. For example, a set of apartment concept buildings managed jointly can be a community, even if the buildings are located in different parts of town, as long as the tenants are connected.

A place with a strong sense of community may encourage people to stay in their homes, even if they would otherwise be inclined to move, e.g. moving closer to a work place, because they feel a close tie to the other members of this community.

People doing hand-crafts in communal space. Photo by Hillary Ungson on Unsplash.

Should property managers build communities?

Based on studies, community management has been proven to be one of the most important factors in the tenancy length, both in Europe and in the US. This is clearly a factor that property managers can directly influence, in order to entice the residents to remain in their unit for a longer time, and that way improve the property's annual return.

The process of building a community also offers landlords an opportunity to add value to their residents. The benefits of building a community can also be seen beyond the savings that the landlord can make, as a well managed building can create value to the neighbourhood where it exists. People who have a sense of belonging to a community, take better care of the facilities and the surrounding areas. This can help property managers build a reputation as a good landlord and a go-to property management company in the local area.

The key to building a community lies in the way that a property is managed. Communicating with the tenants, organising social events and programmes, and providing facilities and amenities that allow for a sense of belonging are all ways for a property manager to build a sense of community, and encourage the tenants to feel like a part of something larger than the individual units, in which they live. This sense of community will not only increase the likelihood that the tenants will stay in the building, but will also increase the likelihood that they will continue to rent from the property manager even if they are likely to look for a new place to live. This will in turn increase the annual return, that the property manager can expect from the building.

New connected ways of living

The world, and the built environments we live in, has seen enormous changes due to the global pandemic. The changes are far from over and property and asset managers need to take this into consideration; the new generations of tenants will not be satisfied with the old-tested-approach. Overall the real estate industry will see that drastic changes will be required to respond to the needs of the future.

People's desire to connect is also affecting the role of the real estate developers and professionals. Their main focus in the real estate industry should be on fostering human connection as our built environments are changing and "the need to create micro-communities - places for people of like mind to both live and work - has never been stronger." (Forbes, 2019)

The purpose of a community, is to bring people together so that they feel a sense of belonging, regardless of whether or not they would otherwise feel a strong sense of community in their lives. While this is an important aspect of community building, it’s only one of many ways in which a community can be built. "Bringing people together and facilitating connection is of tremendous value in a world of tech-fueled isolation. When done masterfully, the value of a property becomes far greater than the sum of its parts." (Forbes, 2019)

In the next section, we’ll focus on the community building strategies that can help property managers be successful in building communities in their rental buildings.

Men sitting  on terrasse in evening sun. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Community building strategies for rental property managers

A community is not something that you can create overnight by snapping your fingers. It takes time and effort to develop a community, but the benefits are well worth the effort. The work can be done easier with the help of digital solutions, that reduce the amount of manual labour, and good planning. It is important to have a clear plan in place for the execution, to ensure best possible results without wasting time on useless tasks.

Four steps for building a community in rental multifamily building:

  1. Identify the right people and set the stage for the community
    This is the first step and can be done in a number of ways. The most effective way is to target like-minded people who share the same, or similar values, as the others in the community, and then ensuring that the built surroundings support the things that are held important in the community. This can for example be done by offering gym facilities and shared sports equipment in a building where the residents are enthusiastic about exercising.
  2. Enabling interaction between rental tenants
    The second step is to enable people to find each other through for example digital community groups, social media channels and shared communal spaces within the building. It is critical that the property manager or the property owners provide digital as well as physical spaces where the tenants, who will be the future community members, can meet each other and interact in their everyday life. Communities are built on human connections.
  3. Creating events to connect the community
    The third step is to create events that connect the community. This can be done in a number of ways. The most effective way is to encourage people to dedicate time to spend with each other and connect in-person. The property manager can do this by making space for it in the tenants calendar, for example by offering tenants the opportunity to host communal meals or cooking classes. It is important that the property manager understands their tenants and what the common interests are and focus the events around these. This way the events will serve a purpose beyond just spending time together one time to bringing the community members together as they realise the common connection.
  4. Be part of the community
    The last step is to be part of the community. Be approachable, and make the connection with the tenants, to ensure you are aware of what happens in the building. This will help you understand the community better, and will help you identify their needs and respond to potential issues that may rise. Currently it is not often possible to do so on a personal level, but you can gain the same results by using digital solutions, such as Hococo, which makes the communication between the property managers and tenants smooth and frictionless. Increasing transparency in the tenant-landlord relationships is a perfect way to make the connection and ensure that the tenants feel them-self heard.
Three girls laughing in sun. Photo by priscilla-du-preez-unsplash

Hopefully this article has helped you to develop a better sense of what constitutes a truly communal property. The best communities are dependant of the people who live in them, and it's up to property managers to create an environment where those people want to live and feel comfortable doing so.

True community is about more than just having close neighbours who smile and say hello. It's about getting to know one another and contributing to something bigger than yourself as an individual. It's about taking pride in where you live and being acknowledged for a job well done. I believe that the best way to accomplish this is by involving our residents in their buildings, one small step at a time.

If you are interested in building a community in your building, book a demo with us,  and hear how Hococo’s digital solution for tenant relationship management can help you.

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