As the U.S. population continues to grow every year, there is also a growing concern for the living spaces that are available. As urban areas become more densely populated, from 79% in 2000 to 80.7% in 2010 according to data from the U.S. Census, the idea of miniaturized apartments has become a reality.
Cities such as New York and San Francisco have already begun developing micro units as part of their pilot program to test their viability in response to offering more affordable housing. For New York, the projected cost of rent is $2000/month for only 275 to 375 square feet of living space, which may not be so affordable. The rooms are required to have windows, a kitchen, and a separate bathroom with the basic necessities. With all of these people and equipment crammed into such limited spaces, there are certainly more hazards to be aware of as well as more burdens on property managers.
According to Michael Cunningham, Managing Editor of PropertyManagementInsider.com, he mentions increased burdens on property managers including:
Increased number of leases, rent collection, and screening responsibilities per property
Selecting the right price for a “tough sell”
Faster spreading of fire, insects, and rodents from one unit to another
Accessibility to plumbing and ventilation for repairs or modifications
Extra training for maintenance teams as residents will likely be more aware of their presence, especially when servicing a unit
As micro units progress further into the property market, there will be an increased need for property managers to make sure their properties are maintained due to increased stress levels from the higher concentration of residents per building. This may call into question the efficiency and adaptability of their current property management methods and tools. As any property manager knows, poorly maintained buildings can cost a lot of money for repairs and even more for poor resident retention due to dissatisfaction. Finding the right property management tools has never been more important than it is now due to the influence of social media and increased number of people choosing to rent properties as opposed to owning.
Micro units have a lot of potential and can certainly become a working solution to address the growing population concern. There are many renters outside of the U.S. who comfortably live in comparably smaller spaces, in fact, some even prefer it. Whether or not it is ideal for affordable housing is disputable given the need to find a balance for the rental price versus the management costs. In either case, this potential change in the property market will be very interesting to follow.
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