Technology can make a big difference when students move into their new homes.
And that's particularly important in the student housing universe where, unlike in conventional housing, most residents arrive all at the same time.
“It’s chaos," says Les Eldrege, user experience director for Property Solutions. "There’s a big line of students.”
Many have traveled a long distance. But before they get the keys and can began carrying in their boxes, they often need to sign some papers, have a photocopy made of their drivers license or even turn in a check for their first month’s rent.
Technology can help. Students can now handle much of this paperwork and pay their first month’s rent online, before they start on their road trip to campus.
Every payment or piece of documentation collected before cuts down on the likelihood of delay and embarrassment on move-in day—as students pat their pockets for the driver’s license or parents explain that they don’t carry a checkbook.
For students who bring their driver’s license, property managers can take a picture of it with an iPad, saving a walk back to Xerox machine in the property management office.
It’s common for residents to submit maintenance requests online. And property management software companies are making it possible to send requests over a smartphone—including a photo of the problem. If the maintenance team has better information on the problem they need to fix, they may be able avoid an extra trip back to the maintenance office to get a part or a tool.
Residents also expect to be able to pay their rent online. But the dependence of students on the Internet has also given managers a threat to ensure timely payment.
“If someone is not paying their rent, we will tone down their Internet to, like, dial-up speed,” says J. Wesley Rogers, CEO of Landmark Properties. “That gets their attention in a heartbeat.”
To encourage students to come back to a student housing property year after years, property managers encourage community events at the property.
Property Solutions has made a game out of social participation. Residents get points for reserving space at the property for events like book clubs or cycling clubs on the property website. Residents also get points for attending events and even submitting their rent payments online. The points can then be redeemed for a variety of prizes or incentives.