As the Property Turns: Helping you maximize the efficiency of planning and executing student housing turnover

Every June through September, when students vacate their housing locations, property managers scramble to execute quick transitions. What’s the best way to minimize delays and maximize efficiency?  HappyCo’s proven processes and checklists ensure comprehensive planning and understanding between current and incoming tenants. Implementation of these proven techniques will help streamline the transition experience for all involved. 

Here, we’ve rounded up the top five most important things to consider as the property turns:

1.) Stagger movement days. This allows you to manage your peak workload periods, manage resources used for property recovery after vacancy and provide alternative move-out and move-in options to your tenants.

2.) Go paperless. This is imperative to improve real-time communication and enable ready access of supporting documentation and instructions. It allows for on-site or remote access and reference of all data and requisite forms. It further allows for maintaining a historical record of all transactions.

3.) Integrate and digitize your Check-In and Check-Out reports.
Comprehensive descriptions and photo recording ensures beginning and ending walk-through conditions are accurately identified and can be verified. It is hard to refute visual side-by-side documentation of conditions. Providing the initial walk-through to the tenant, prior to their departure, would also allow time to improve the property’s condition prior to the final walk-though.

4.) Provide a comprehensive list of alternatives for departing tenants to consider for furniture movement in advance of the move out date.
A key element in improving transition readiness and execution is sharing information to enhance planning and schedule execution. Providing alternatives for the movement, storage or disposition of furniture enables tenants to arrange for needed resources. Lessons learned from prior transitions help to prevent delays and improve the property’s condition and curb appeal at departure.

5.) Provide your tenants with a list of items to accomplish (check out list) to expedite inspection and remediation.
This entire process may be new to the tenants. By providing a move-out checklist, you will allow for sequential activities and comprehensive coverage of the steps needed to vacate or move in. This further provides a higher probability of property readiness for immediate showing and affecting the next rental.


A Happier Inspector—Upcoming Additions and Fixes


Here at HappyCo, we are always busy listening to customer feedback and engineering new ways to improve Inspector based on the feedback we get. We are happy to announce that there are some BIG changes in the works. 

1. Inspector for Android is in beta as we type! We are very excited to be getting Inspector into the hands of people using Android devices. This version has the same look and feel as the iOS version, and is currently being tested by about 30 customers who have requested an Android version in the past. Everything has been going smoothly with the beta version, and we will have it out for all users to choose the device of their liking soon. 

2. Faster Indexing! Long indexing times can be a real pain, and we've been working hard to lessen that pain by getting your device set up faster and you inspecting more quickly. With our next release, 3.7.1 on iOS, indexing time has been reduced significantly, even for our customers with large amounts of data. 

3. Changes to default settings! We started to realize that some of the default settings that we shipped Inspector with were not very apparent to our users. After much feedback, we have changed some of our defaults to better suit the out-of-the-box needs of our users, which will appear in our 3.7.1 release. Use Cellular Data will be automatically turned on, so that when inspecting from your iPhone, Inspector will continue working even when not on WiFi. Edit Templates will also be automatically set to on, to reduce confusion over not being able to edit a template right away. 

4. Scoring! With our planned 3.8 iOS update, you will have the ability to add numerical values to items and their rankings. After generating a report, these values will be calculated into individual item scores, section scores, and an asset a whole score. Furthermore, the numerical value can be set to appear as a monetary value, so for example, upon completing a move-out inspection, a tenant's deposit - charges can be included right in the report. Here is a short video to give you a preview of what scoring will be like. 


5. Customizable Assets! Inspector is used for much more than just property management, and not all assets are properties or units. This is why we are in the beginning stages of developing a customizable assets feature, so that you can name your assets to fit your needs. Common other asset types we've been asked for are rooms, vehicles, equipment and machinery, and even people, for completing employee assessments. 

6. The HappyCo Template Library! Working at HappyCo, we know how many use cases there are for Inspector, but we've noticed that not all of these use cases come to the mind of our users. We are happy to release our template library so that you can not only see all of the different templates we have created for Inspector, but download them for FREE! 

If you have any questions or comments, we are always happy to hear your feedback via chat or email at Happy Inspecting! 




Follow These Simple Steps To Construction Worksite Safety


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that, on any given day, nearly 6.5 million people are at work at more than a quarter of a million construction sites across the United States. Unfortunately, those same people are at the highest risk of being seriously or fatally injured on the job, mostly from falls from heights, trench or scaffold collapses, accidents involving machines and equipment, electric shocks, and failure to use the proper protective gear.

The good news is that many of these types of accidents are preventable, as long as workers operate with an abundance of caution and adhere to safety measures. When lives are on the line, construction site foreman and managers must make safety a top priority.

Here are some of the top tips to help ensure constructions workers remain safe on the job.

Do a walk-through of the site. 
Foremen should make this their first task of the day, using the time to identify any hazards that may have materialized during the prior day’s work. Be on the lookout for any potentially hazardous chemicals or materials laying around, scaffolding that may have shifted, or safety barricades that may have been inadvertently moved.  First-time site inspections must include a survey of any underground utilities, such as gas, water or telecom lines; such obstructions must always be marked with barrier tape or signs.

Make sure everyone is properly trained.
OSHA requires that all operators musts have certified and identifiable training on machines or equipment, even if they’ve been running a certain machine so long they believe they can do it blindfolded.  Models and features change, and a refresher course can often remind an operator that they have gotten lazy when it comes to safety rules and operating techniques.

Keep people a safe distance from the action.
Workers on a site have the tendency to want to be near the action, even if they’re not operating a machine at that moment. According to the website “For Construction,” backhoe operators report that their biggest headache is when other workers that crowd their machine when, for instance, a hole is being filled or dug. This puts other people unnecessarily at risk, so don’t allow it.

Never ignore the simple safety rules.
Never let workers walk onto a site without a hard hat, and don’t allow them to forgo wearing safety-rated boots or anti-slip footwear, work gloves, protective apparel or ear plugs. Harnesses and seat/safety belts are a must, too, even if the job is relatively low to the ground or using them seems unnecessary. If a machine starts to tip, or a scaffold begins to give way, a seat belt or harness becomes a lifeline. Likewise, when loading or unloading a piece of equipment, always be sure workers have a spotter for guidance; doing it alone – and encountering trouble – can turn bad in a hurry.

Be vigilant with electricity. If workers are using plugged-in portable devices, such as grinders or drills, always check that the cables are protected, that the metal casing is grounded, and that the power supply is provided with an earth leakage circuit breaker. Never allow the electrical tools to come in contact with water.

Use a common sense approach to keep the site as safe as possible.
Keep first aid nearby at all times to treat minor cuts and burns as quickly as possible. Make sure all work areas are well lit to prevent trip and fall injuries.  Make sure workers are aware of swing radiuses of heavy equipment. Be sure ladders and scaffolding are free from defects and fully secured before using.  Keep debris off walkways. 

At the end of the day, a few sets of discerning eyes and a measured approach to adhering to safety rules will keep workers safe and your project on track.

The Most Productive Communication Practices For Managing Student Residents (and their parents!)

Communication is the most important aspect of what we do as property managers. Managing student housing units can prove to be one of the most challenging work conditions as we not only have to deal with our tenants – but also their parents. In student housing we are often the eyes and ears for the parent; this is important because they are the ones who can provide the most support for a positive rental experience.

At times this communication can be challenging so, here, we’ve rounded up our top five communication practices for managing your tenants (and their parents!):

1. Establish ties. As a general rule of thumb, encourage parents to always co-sign with their child. This will allow for a direct line of communication. 

2. Get Tech Savvy. Accurate record keeping combined with automated software will help to reinforce the commitment of payment from the occupant in addition to providing timely notifications of delinquent payments and follow-on actions.

3. Make a plan. While respecting the student's responsibility and independence, you must not lose sight of maintaining communication with the parents. Be sure to establish a mutually agreed upon communication channel with the parents so that they are informed of the status of the lease regularly.  

4. Chat regularly. There are times when the occupancy of the unit will change during the lease period. To be sure that you are aware of these circumstances, consider a more frequent communication rhythm with your tenants.

5. Be helpful. The most stressful period will be just prior to and during turnover at the end of the lease. The objective is to secure renewal or facilitate a planned transition. Be sure to communicate all move-out processes, rules and regulations in advance and provide suggestions and any potentially useful information to your tenants.

Communication can be further complicated by multi-family units. Under these circumstances, you’ll need to establish a clear understanding with the tenants through a formal meeting shortly after they move in. While untraditional, this will accomplish three objectives: (1) you will establish the status of the property after occupation and (2) you will personally reinforce the terms of the lease regarding maintaining property condition, rent payment and walk-though expectations and (3) you’ll clarify the best way to contact your team.

How To Hack Your Turnover Tips To Make Turnover Faster & Easier Than Ever Before

It’s no secret that managing expirations and planning in advance will make for a smoother transition at turnover.  While having a clear strategy will help you to meet the industry standard of three days, it isn’t always easy. Generally, your tasks will differ from property to property – and it’s challenging to get your entire team on board with turnover processes and policies.

Here are some quick tips to help you hack your turnover and keep your team on top of the chaos this year:

Involve yourself in the process. Make sure to stay active and involved in the turnover process. It is imperative that you have a clear strategy for lease expiration management and that the process is organized and proven. Make any adjustments necessary to ensure the success of your team. 

Pre-inspect. Conducting pre-inspections before your tenants move out will enable you to figure out in advance any work or repairs that need to be done. You’ll save your maintenance crew a lot of time and have a chance to provide your tenants with a move out checklist and suggestions for prepping their property for move out. 

Take photographs and organize files digitally. By keeping everything online and organized, you’ll be able to manage your properties and execute turnover a lot more efficiently. You’ll spend less time on clerical work in the office and more time on site helping your tenants prepare for a smooth transition. 

Bill before you turn. If you discover any problems during pre-inspection that your tenant will need to cover, be sure to bill at that point in time. Yes, it’s possible that more damage could be caused to the property prior to final inspection, but this will cover a majority of fees incurred. 
Train your staff. Hold a boot camp to get everyone on the same page, review the plan and go over individual responsibilities. Ensure that everyone is on board with your processes and procedures and answer any questions that your staff may have.

Incentivize your team. Think sales spiffs, but for maintenance/facilities staff to reduce make-ready time and resource consumption. This applies to your entire team from leasing agents to maintenance crews.


[eBook] A Property Manager's Ultimate Guide To Technology

There's a lot happening with technology today and it's getting harder by the day to keep up, especially in an industry as fast-paced as property management. Our new eBook, A Property Manager's Ultimate Guide To Technology, will help get you caught up to speed on the latest technology jargon and terms, discover new tools and apps for property management and learn about best practices for implementing new technology in property management all the way from evaluation to deployment.

  • Tech Tools for Property Managers That'll Make Inspector Gadget Jealous
  • Top Mobile Apps Your Company Should Be Using
  • Tech Jargon Demystified
  • Find out what an API is and how Big Data is changing your business
  • Three Part Series For Deploying New Technology
  • Evaluate, Educate & Get Buy-in, Implement
  • How Digital Photos Can Optimize Your Bottom Line
  • And more...

You can claim your free copy by clicking below:

Updates to Inspector - Create templates, eSign, dashboard and more!

There has been a lot of updates and improvements to the Inspector product in the past 4 months. We wanted to share with you a summary of the key updates:

1. Create and edit templates on the fly

You can easily create a new inspection from scratch or edit it on your mobile device. Want to save time? Duplicate an existing template and then modify it. 

2. Faster sync
Your photos and data now upload faster from the device to the cloud, backing up your inspections at a speedier rate!

3. eSignature for reports
Increase accountability with team members e-signing reports on their mobile devices. You can also watch this video on how to create, sign and send a report. 

4. Share reports with your contacts in a few taps
Instantly share a link to a report to your contacts. You can choose these options:  

  • Contact from your iPhone/iPad phonebook
  • Contact associated with the asset
  • Select your email address
  • Type in an email address.

The recipient will receive an email with a link to the report. It's as easy as 1-2-3!

5. Keep an eye on your team with dashboard
Get a birds' eye view of your weekly inspections and photo count. Need a custom dashboard? We can create them on request. Contact us on



6. View templates on web
You can view the templates you create on your iPhone/iPad on the web. Select your favorite templates and copy them to folders. 

7. Signup for the Android app beta
We've been busy as a beaver working on an Android version for the Google Play store. We are now opening it up to Android beta testers. All our beta testers will receive a free Inspector by HappyCo t-shirt and 3 months' free subscription when the official Android release is available. Contact us via if you would like to get early access. 

If you have any questions, please let us know via chat or email us on


Make Inspector Gadget Jealous With These Tech Tools for Property Managers

WegoWise utility management platform

WegoWise utility management platform

WegoWise is an online platform that helps property owners, investors, and managers improve the energy and water efficiency of their portfolios. Monitor your property’s water and energy usage for as little as $10/building/month from your computer.

At $199 per camera, you can easily and affordably set up a wireless video monitoring system around your community’s recreation, leasing and common areas. You can view the cameras right from your mobile device, meaning that if you have to go off-property or you want to check in during the evenings, you can still have an eye on what’s going on. The best part? They’re internet-enabled, so they can be easily set up to send you notifications or to start recording based on activity triggers.

DropCam wifi-enabled video 

DropCam wifi-enabled video 

Kwikset Bluetooth powered lock system

Kwikset Bluetooth powered lock system

Kevo by Kwikset
These ‘smart locks’ eliminate the process of re-keying doors for move in/move outs. Each unit’s door that is outfitted with a Kevo lock can be paired to a resident’s mobile device or user a key fob. eKeys can be assigned to maintenance personnel, contractors and residents’ guests.

This handy platform automatically notifies residents of packages received for them at the clubhouse. PackageLog estimates that it saves five minutes per package for the property manager and that it helps with retention too, adding 4+ ‘touches’ per resident per package. Pricing starts at $49/property/month.

PackageLog parcel management

PackageLog parcel management

Tile Asset-Location Technology

Tile Asset-Location Technology

Attach a ‘Tile’ to any item (perfect for key rings!) and use the Tile mobile app to find the location of that item. No more lost keyrings, iPads or other items that are constantly getting misplaced around the office. They adhere to almost any surface and have battery life that lasts for a full year from the time they’re shipped. They’re available for $25 each.


The Proof Is In The Pixels: How Digital Photos Can Alleviate Move-Out Disputes

An apartment inspector’s task list for each move-out is formidable, time-consuming, and must be completed on a tight deadline. However, new technologies are making it easier for inspectors and property managers to gather the information they need and link it directly to a tenant’s account, saving time for all involved - and even settling a few disputes along the way.

Snapping pictures of carpets, walls, doors, and window treatments isn’t a new practice - inspectors typically take hundreds of photos every day to determine whether tenants are entitled to reclaim their full damage deposits. The challenge arises when inspectors return to their offices and are faced with downloading and reconciling those photos with specific tenants and particular units.


It’s a time-sapping, inefficient, process that usually requires copious handwritten notes and overfilled filing cabinets to keep straight. The advent of new digital inspection platforms that include embedded photography functionality addresses this pain point.  With apps of this nature, photographs are instantly time-stamped, assigned to a specific tenant, and uploaded to the property management company’s database. That way photos are automatically included in every file and can be accessed at a moment’s notice.

This functionality is particularly useful when an inspector discovers something that could require holding back a portion or all of the damage deposit – for example, a large dark stain on a carpet – but the tenant disputes responsibility, claiming the stain was there when he or she moved in.  A time-date-stamped photo taken when the previous tenant moved out can settle these kinds of disputes in a hurry. This approach doesn’t just save time, but it also saves money by reducing legal costs, speeding up rentals of vacant units, and preventing expensive mistakes.

In our nearly paperless world, one in which people relocate with increasing frequency, platforms like this are poised to revolutionize the inspection industry. If you manage rental properties, it’s something that you might want to consider.

6 Mobile Apps Every Property Manager Should Know About

Property management pros, residents and even future tenants are relying on mobile technology more now than ever before. If your property management business is not utilizing the latest mobile apps, they may move on to a company that is. Having access to mobile apps does not just help you attract more clients - it helps your company operate, manage and most importantly, save time and money.

Top Mobile Apps Your Company Should be Using
While there are an abundance of mobile apps out there designed to help property managers, these nine are the most efficient and give your business a more competitive edge:

Zillow’s Postlets - Most property managers are familiar with Postlets, but did you know that Zillow offers a mobile app to manage and create your Postlets on the go?

Rent Tracker - Download this app to your iPad, iPhone, Android or Windows PC device. The app lets you enter tenant information, contractors, buildings and owners. Tenants can then enter their payment and receive their receipts via email as well.

Journal of Property Management (IREM) - This bi-monthly publication is produced by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). It’ll help you continue to hone your property management skills with pragmatic advice on “maintenance, sustainability and overall management practices for real estate managers.”

HelloSign - This app allows property managers to collect digital signatures regardless of where they are. It gives managers more accessibility to documents and they can even email a digital copy with signature to the signee - such as a tenant, vendor or even a client.

IFTTT - This is a great, multi-purpose app that will allow you set up recipes to make your hectic life a little easier. You can set up custom notifications based on your daily life. Set it up to send you a rain notification (bring an umbrella on today’s afternoon property tours!) or to log all of your inbound SMS messages to a spreadsheet so you can search through them later.

And a bonus app! Of course we couldn’t not mention our own solution… Happy Inspector - HappyCo takes your field inspections from paperbound to paperless. Our premium mobile and web applications digitize your inspections process so you can have greater visibility into your business and your team can focus on work that makes your customers happy. Our apps are available for desktop/browser, iPhone and iPad devices.

Mobile apps are the wave of the future for property managers. Whether your company specializes in single-family residences or multi-family buildings, having the right technology at your fingertips can make you more efficient and profitable.