If you're about to buy a multifamily property characterized by cultural diversity, you have some challenges ahead. Multicultural misunderstandings are common due to problems with communication and lack of knowledge. You want to avoid turnover as much as possible, prevent clashes among residents and handle maintenance and repair issues promptly. Effective communication is essential.
The Importance of Resident Retention
Each time a tenant decides to move out, it costs the landlord time and money for advertising, maintenance tasks such as carpet cleaning, and showing the apartment to prospective renters. If the place is vacant for any amount of time, lost rent revenue adds up.
You can figure out these expenses for your own situation with an online calculator. Even with a minimal amount of vacancy time, such as 15 days, you can still expect that one turnover to run you around $1,000 for a $700 apartment when you include all the costs.
Although you may hear about numerous strategies to encourage residents to renew a lease, simply making sure their living situation is satisfactory often is all that's necessary.
Some Problems You May Encounter
Individuals from different cultures tend to have very different life experiences and ideas from one another.
You may find, for example, that one of your tenants sometimes doesn't pay rent when it's due -- not because they are short on cash, but because their culture has no concept of having to pay something "on time."
Some residents may complain if others cook with pungent spices and the aroma routinely infiltrates other apartments. The people doing the cooking may not understand the concept of opening a window for ventilation or using the stove's exhaust system.
Someone from another country may not realize that they should call the landlord for repair work if something goes wrong. They may never have lived in a place where a landlord fixed an appliance or a dripping faucet for free.
The Importance of Communication
It's usually easy enough to communicate with residents who speak the native language well. However, when you rent to people who aren't entirely fluent in English, you and your tenants may have trouble connecting effectively. For instance, you may think someone understands that they must move their vehicle from the parking lot when the lot is about to be repaved, but that may not be the case.
You may rent several apartments to people from diverse cultures, or from a particular culture that is quite different from the prevailing one in the area. Consider hiring a residential property management firm with experience in this realm. Effective communication will prevent problems among residents, increase resident satisfaction and boost retention. That saves you time and money.