By Greg O’Berry
Multifamily property teams know their communities better than anyone else. They know the grounds, amenities and property layout like the back of their hands, and their relationships with residents almost make them extended family.
While that firsthand knowledge and personal connection is invaluable in day-to-day operations, that intimacy becomes an obstacle when it comes to evictions. Onsite team members were hired for their ability to turn prospects into residents as well as their ability to build relationships through assisting and nurturing the residents of the community, not removing them from their homes. However, it has historically been onsite teams who have been tasked with managing evictions.
It’s time for that task to be centralized corporately, to limit the burden and involvement at the property level.
Especially once current nationwide eviction moratoriums expire, evictions should be handled primarily at the corporate level, and ideally through third-party delinquency management services. By changing the dynamic and insulating onsite teams from potentially contentious interactions with residents, multifamily operators can ensure that the work their property teams have put in to cultivate those delicate relationships with residents isn’t undone.
But the benefits to corporate control of the eviction process go much further.
Visibility into the evictions process
When evictions are handled strictly at the property level, multifamily corporations rarely have a vantage into the process for a given community. There is no way to know whether the process was conducted professionally or effectively, or what the potential risk of exposure is during eviction proceedings.
By assuming control of evictions at the corporate level, apartment operators gain valuable oversight of the process across the portfolio. Through a single dashboard, they have visibility into the status of evictions for any community, as well as attorney actions.
In a recent client survey, more than 74% of clients identified visibility into eviction case status (updates and reporting) as critical.
Standardization of evictions
Not only have apartment communities within the same portfolio historically paid varying rates for eviction services, but the eviction process itself has lacked homogeneity from one property to the next. Each property management team has its own way of doing things, which produces inconsistent results across a company.
At the corporate level, the hodgepodge system made it difficult to track progress or even assist, when needed.
By centralizing evictions at the corporate level and through a single eviction service partner, who works directly with local legal counsel, apartment operators are empowered to develop and deploy holistic standards and unify procedures across the board.
Data point: More than 97% of evictions are handled by the property manager or assistant manager, with the majority (54%) being managed by the assistant manager. It’s a substantial amount of time spent on a single task, and it pulls onsite management teams away from leasing and the day-to-day operations of the community. Onsite teams are also frequently burdened with the responsibility of dealing with attorneys for formal eviction filings. Data indicates that only 55% of the time the decision to use an evictions attorney comes from the corporate level.
Preserving property reputation
Onsite teams weren’t hired to chase delinquencies and handle evictions. They understandably have a difficult time flipping the switch from community resource to debt collector, and their methods generally aren’t effective. When onsite associates are forced to take an adversarial stance with residents, it doesn’t reflect well on the community and it gives the evicted resident a target for their retribution.
Reducing the involvement of the onsite teams can help to eliminate negative social media posts or reviews. Property teams shouldn’t have to play the bad guy in eviction proceedings or take the brunt of resident frustrations.