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Sustainable Practices for City Landlords


When it comes to green industries, property management isn't one of the first things that comes to mind. Landlords and tenants don't always do an effective job of practicing sustainable behavior, but there is hope. With the right strategies in place, landlords can reduce their carbon footprint and still remain profitable. It's certainly an uphill battle, but one that can be conquered with cooperation on both sides.

Four Ways Landlords Can Go Green

You may assume that the only way to go green is to gut your properties and totally renovate them using eco-friendly materials and technologies, but nothing could be further from the truth. Here are four simple ways you can get started:

Conserve Utilities

Conserving utilities – namely water, gas, and electric – goes a long way towards ensuring a property is curbing its overall footprint. Unfortunately, most landlords don't do themselves any favors when they cover the costs of utilities and then factor an estimate into the tenant's monthly rent payment.

"Many landlords make the mistake of including whatever costs tenants will accrue from their utilities on their overall monthly rent," one landlord notes. "This is a problem as it encourages wasting and provides no incentive for tenants to display more responsibility with their daily utility usage."

It's a good idea to make tenants pay for their consumption and provide them with some literature on smart practices for reducing their rates.

Streamline Paperless Communication

Good and frequent communication between landlords and tenants is very important in terms of maintaining healthy relationships. The issue is that many landlords have inefficient ways of communicating. They either send out mailers or drive from property to property to deliver messages.

Thankfully, there are more eco-friendly ways of doing things. By using a mass notification system, landlords can not only go paperless, but they can also speed up delivery.

Collect Rent Online

Think about how inefficient standard rent collection processes are. The tenant uses a stamp, envelope, and paper check and puts it in the mail for the postal service to pick up and transport to your business. Or, you go from property to property burning gas and collecting checks. Either way, it's not very efficient.

The greenest way to collect rent is to accept online payments. With online payments, you no longer have to spend time tracking down checks and your tenants don't have to worry about missing a payment. It's a mutually beneficial setup.

Invest in Smart Features

While it probably doesn't make sense to totally renovate your rental properties, you can make them more eco-friendly by investing in some newer, greener features. One of the simplest things you can do is weather-strip and caulk around windows and doors.

"Heat and cold can escape a home through poorly sealed doors and windows, and it doesn't take much time or money to install new weather stripping," landlord Jennifer Maughan explains. "Caulking the cracks around windows can do the same thing by sealing out drafts. All these efforts will reduce the amount of time and energy it takes for your tenant to heat or cool the rental property, and prevent extreme hot or cold weather from outdoors from seeping in."

Other ideas include installing motion sensor lights on the front porch, swapping out old appliances with newer energy efficient models, and installing low-flow showerheads.

Putting it All Together

As you can see, there are realistic opportunities for landlords and tenants to work together to reduce their carbon footprint and practice sustainability. The key is to develop a plan and stick to it. It won't be easy, but it's certainly possible with the right system in place.