I find it ironic that I am giving advice to my children on leasing an apartment after being in the multifamily industry for so long.  For years, my children asked what I actually did for a living.  When I explained so passionately about property management software. websites, and interfaces they listened intently but with blank stares. Then said, “That’s nice mom.  I still don’t understand what you do.”  Ego deflating moment.  My children were basically raised in The Village Apartments in Dallas, Texas where I worked for Lincoln Property Company.  Their birthday parties were held in apartment clubhouses.  I have been on the technology side of our industry, but have an in-depth understanding of the leasing cycle. 

My oldest child has taken a major step in growing up by renting their first apartment.  So it was great that I could tell them what to expect in the application process and researching their desired home. I could give them advice on rental rates in the city they live, explain the admin fees, holding deposit, etc.  I could explain the move in special. When they complained about the offices not answering their phone, I could expound upon the many reasons management companies chose to have or not have a call center.  Another ego deflating moment for me. “That’s nice mom. I have to go now.”

The management company my child selected also used the TAA lease.  I was forwarded a “Welcome To Your new Home” email about the lease.  My child then wondered why there wasn’t a link so they could sign it electronically.  I choked up a little.  A single tear may have rolled off my cheek.  I did hold my tongue regarding the digital lease process.  My ego is fragile at this moment and doesn’t have much air left to deflate. My child asked me to review the lease which made me laugh.  I responded, “I could probably recite the TAA Lease in my sleep.”  They were so excited on the big lease signing day. 

I have to admit, I scoured the property web pages to see who did the designs. I looked at the floor plans and availability.  Also, when my child visited the leasing offices, I would quiz them on what software was being used.  Sort of like our own version of property management I Spy game.  I Spy Yardi! I Spy OneSite!

Three days later, anxiety set in.  My child texted me with all the what if’s. (Children these days to not talk on the phone, they text.  Yet another reason to have text capability in your marketing software platform.)  What if……this happens, that happens, etc.? I wanted to reassure my child and lower their anxiety.  It took me back to my early twenties, apartment life, my expectations, and my reality. In my experience here is how life unfolds.  You chart your course and things happen.  You learn to budget and make money last. You learn how to decorate with second hand furniture and accessories. Pinterest is your new best friend. You invite friends over more for dinner parties and it will be pot luck and BYOB.  Amazing memories will be made. You will eat lots of Raman and Spaghetti.

You will work all month to pay the bills.  When you successfully pay all your bills, you will have such a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment.  Then the debt cycle begins again.  Every 30 days like clockwork. When you cannot pay your bills, you learn the art of communication and the law.  Lucky for me, I could also set expectations for my child regarding not paying your rent. 

The best advice I can give to anyone is to communicate with your management office.  Companies want to help if they are able to.  I was in a client’s leasing office recently and witnessed a young lady come in and notify the staff her next payday would be past the rent due date.  She looked to be about the same age as my child. The leasing agent began to explain a program the company offered which allowed splitting rent into two payments during the month.  It cost the renter a premium to be enrolled in the plan, but it was less expensive than late fees, worked better for budgeting for some residents, and would keep her in good standing with the management company. This young lady was able to sign up on the spot. She would not have known about it had she not come by the office before the first of the month and communicate what her problem was.

I am looking forward to seeing my child move into their first apartment, decorate it, and month by month gain confidence in themselves by paying their rent on time, calling in service requests, and getting utility bills in their name. After I explained the mechanics of the rent cycle, I also gave the love and assurance of a parent. I will be by your side no matter what comes your way in life. Things will come your way in life. Embrace it, learn from it.  I think I hear an 80’s Taylor Dane song playing in my mind.

University of Life is now in session.