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?
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 coordinated. 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 where there is a strong sense of community can affect your tenants' decision to stay, even if they would otherwise have considered moving (for example, closer to their workplace) because they feel a close connection with other members of the community.
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 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 same 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.
So, to answer the question, should property managers build communities? Yes, they should.
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.
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.
Hopefully this article has helped you to develop a better sense of what constitutes a truly communal property. The best communities are dependent 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.
Hococo's Tenant Experience and Operations app has a feature built-in, which will help you to get started with community formation with just pressing a few buttons. 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.