Archive for the ‘Apartment Living’ Category

Background Checks – Why You Should Be On Board

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Background checkThe use of tenant screening, more commonly referred to as “background checks,” is consistently growing in popularity throughout multi-family apartment leasing. These days just about every landlord and property manager utilize some sort of credit and rental history screening process for the financially-responsible party, but the additional integration of criminal background checks for residents is becoming just as commonplace. In the past 24 months, Preferred Corporate Housing has seen a significant increase in our partner communities requiring specific guest information for each occupant so that criminal background checks can be performed. While each property management company has it’s own criteria used to evaluate applicants, PCH has found that communities are relying on guidelines and recommendations from their local civil authorities. With many states, municipalities and federal agencies like Homeland Security integrating legislation requiring the tracking of criminal offenders and sexual predators, apartment communities may be required by local law to perform these tenant screenings.

“PCH provided our fully furnished apartments in all 50 U.S. states in 2016, and we’ve seen an uptick in background checks/tenant screening processes in every state we serviced,” said Anna Schoephoerster, Senior National Account Executive for Preferred Corporate Housing. “This is a welcome trend for our clients from our perspective because even though it may cause a bit more paperwork on the front-end, added criminal screenings is a way to improve safety across the board for our corporate clients,” said Schoephoerster.

Another reason multi-families are adding these types of criminal screenings to their leasing process is in effort to eliminate “negligent leasing.” This is a widely used term in the multi-family rental industry used to describe a rental situation go awry due to lack of due diligence and pre-screening on the part of the community management. Negligent leasing is a real concern today as properties can potentially avoid theft, violence and damages by simply running a criminal history check on guests before accepting them to their property. Fair Housing laws require that if any screening of this nature is performed on one potential resident, it must be applied to all potential residents across the board.

“We prefer to place our corporate clients at communities that require these type of criminal screenings for guests because it adds a bit more peace-of-mind about the neighborhood,” said Megan Margetusakis, Director of Operations for PCH. “Our clients have an expectation of safety when they stay with us, and while we can’t guarantee that crime won’t happen, we can do our due diligence to reduce the risk by placing them in communities with resident screening requirements.”

Although resident screening services can potentially weed out unwanted, potentially dangerous neighbors, many corporate clients have balked at the requirements to provide the personal information needed to complete these screenings for their corporate travelers. This hesitancy is not due to fear that their employees will not pass the screenings, but rather protection of their employees’ personally identifiable information. Drivers License numbers, date of birth, and even social security numbers are often required for these screenings. International travelers may even be asked to provide copies of their passports.

“The most important thing for corporate travel and mobility managers to understand when it comes to resident screening requirements is that we must abide by the community requirements when placing your employees in our furnished apartments,” said Margetusakis. “Because of Fair Housing and other local laws, we do not have the ability waive these requirements on a case by case basis for any guest or employee. What we can offer are secure ways to provide the required personal information that doesn’t violate the company’s PII policy and/or place the employee at risk for PII exposure.” said Margetusakis.

Tenant screening, background checks, criminal history review…they are all here to stay, and it is highly-likely that their inclusion in rental approval processes will continue to gain popularity throughout the country. Corporate Travel and Mobility Managers should be prepared to counsel their employees on this requirement and talk through best-practices and safe methods for providing the necessary personal information for these screenings.

Company-Sponsored Intern Housing: Three Reasons to Include in Your Program

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Intern Program HousingAsk an intern what’s the most stressful part about accepting an out-of-town position and chances are you’ll hear: “Short term housing.” Ask an employer what’s the most stressful part of hiring interns from out of town and they will probably say the same thing.

Short term housing is one of the most crucial, yet challenging, intern program benefits to administer. The stresses of finding and securing a place to live for three months can result in anxiety for both you and your relocating intern, and if not done correctly, can lead to huge cost implications and failed assignments.

Some companies may offer a lump sum to help their interns, but this option may not eliminate as much stress as many Program Managers would hope. A lump sum requires the intern to research the housing market, find a suitable option on their own, and possibly still front the rental costs. Without direction and assistance from Program Managers, lump sum programs typically result in confusion and create additional risks to the overall success of intern assignments.

To attract top talent and ensure success for your Intern program, providing vetted short term housing options and paying some (or all) of the associated costs for short term housing has proven to be most-effective. Here are three reasons why.

1. Quality Control Assurance

Interns who are tasked to find their own housing for the summer are almost always going to look for the cheapest option. Because most interns are financially strapped college students, it’s not likely that they’ll be willing or able to drop several thousand dollars on a place to live for three months. The result could be disastrous for both you and your interns.

Many platforms targeted specifically for interns offer deals that are sometimes too good to be true, and they unfortunately prey on naïve victims. Asking interns to wire rent money or give up personally identifiable information can be “red flags” that your interns may not notice. Rental scams have become more common over the last few years and interns looking for the best deals can sometimes fall victim to these schemes. Interns who are not familiar with housing best-practices and quality control checkpoints may be at the most risk.

Another consideration is the quality of housing your interns will have if they look for the cheapest option.  While there’s nothing wrong with affordable housing, it’s important that your interns feel comfortable with the place where they will be living over the course of their internship. If your interns are living in area that’s unsafe or an apartment that’s unclean and poorly cared for, it could affect their performance at work and their attitude about the internship.

Providing short term housing options puts you in control of the housing experience your interns will receive. If you can work with your temporary housing partner to provide an approved list of housing options and are willing to subsidize some (or all) of the rent, you can ensure that your intern class isn’t going to be subjected to rental scams or choose housing based solely on price. A negative housing experience can negatively impact your intern’s overall impression of your program, but demonstrating that you care about the living conditions of your interns will contribute to a positive impression of the company and possibly affect the likelihood of them accepting a full-time offer

2. Timing is Everything

Did you know that some programs start securing their intern housing more than a year before the actual stay? Timing is everything in short-term housing. If interns start looking too early, the options they find may not still be available by the time they’re ready to sign a lease. If they start looking too late, they may miss out altogether.

Companies that offer sponsored lodging arrangements for their intern programs have the benefit of working with trusted, experienced temporary housing providers who can utilize their own buying power and industry relationships to create the best possible solutions for each intern. By utilizing the expert knowledge of a trusted temporary housing provider, you can ensure your interns will not be left in the lurch.

3. Reduces Intern Anxiety

Finding viable housing for their stay in addition to mentally preparing for their new role within your company creates an enormous amount of stress for new interns. Chances are, your interns have never done this before. They are used to college dorms or signing year-long apartment leases in student-friendly communities. The interns’ lack of experience with the nuances of short-term housing may create frustration and anxiety, causing them to begin their assignment with a negative impression of their new company.

Unfortunately, as many of us may know all too well, this stress related to intern housing won’t be restricted to just your interns. You’ll be feeling it too. One-off questions will be coming at you from various interns at various times throughout the process.

By investing the time and energy up front to create a relocation benefit for short-term housing, and working with a dedicated, experienced temporary housing provider, your company can continue to attract the top talent and ensure their focus remains on the job at hand.

PCH Team Member Joins Houston Relocation Professionals Board of Directors

Friday, December 16th, 2016

michelle-velasquez-highresPreferred Corporate Housing is proud to announce that our Director of Client Services, Michelle Velasquez, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Houston Relocation Professionals organization.

Houston Relocation Professionals (HRP) was founded by a small group of global mobility professionals in the Houston area for the purpose of providing education and networking opportunities to the local relocation and human resource communities.  Today HRP has a membership of over 200 mobility professionals from within the Greater Houston area, as well as from many other locations throughout the United States. Michelle joins an elite group of current Board Members from all facets of the relocation industry.

“I’m excited for the knowledge-share, continued professional development and networking opportunities to come within the organization,” said Michelle. “Our goal is to increase the value that HRP provides for its members, and I can’t wait to do my part to help achieve that goal

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

At last month’s Americas Mobility Conference sponsored by the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (WERC), PCH team member Michelle Velasquez, led an interactive discussion on the most recent trends impacting employee travel in relation to temporary housing. Several of the HR Managers in the attendance asked questions about Airbnb and wondered if this “home-sharing” hotel alternative is affecting extended business travel and lodging needs in conjunction with employee mobility.

It was noted that these types of lodging alternatives are spending millions in creative advertising targeting the younger traveler, and they are becoming more attractive to individual employees traveling with their own out-of-pocket expenses. But for company-sponsored assignments, Airbnb is still a risky alternative.

The discussion was focused around the unknowns involved with those Airbnb-type of bookings, and how those unknowns can potentially impact the success of an assignment. With little-to-no regulation or quality oversight, employees take a risk on each booking. Another concern involves “home-sharing” solutions like Airbnb and its competitors being heavily lobbied against by the Hotel Industry. This lobbying is creating legislation that involves restrictions, and in some cities, elimination of these types of alternatives altogether. If Airbnb suffered a big loss in a city (think of the Uber ban in Austin, TX) where a company’s employees were utilizing their services, it could distract from the goal of the assignment while the employees are scrambling for alternative lodging.

AirBNB Nightmare

AirBNB Nightmare – Vice.com

Another deterrent for employers who may be exploring Airbnb as a lodging alternative for its employees involves the negative press that spreads throughout social media when a “home-sharing” booking goes terribly wrong. Vice.com released an article this morning recounting some of the worst experiences ever reported with Airbnb experiences. If the stories of brothels, drug-dealing hosts and sardine-style sleeping arrangements don’t scare employers away, the images included in the article certainly will. We’ve included a few as a preview, but you can view the entire article by visiting https://www.vice.com/read/strangest-airbnb-experiences-stories-876

Preferred Corporate Housing clients count on us to provide a home-like experience that is move-in ready and free of stress. HR and Talent Managers understand that employees need a stable, comfortable living experience in order to be productive and successful in their new assignments. Our furnished apartment solutions in residential communities provide the standardization, quality oversight and 24-hour service that are necessary for successful mobile assignments. If you are exploring lodging alternatives for your employees in order to create successful and productive assignments, call Preferred Corporate Housing to learn more about our solutions in more than 42,000 North American destinations. (800) 960-0102. www.corporates.com

Most Affordable States for Job Seekers

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Graduation season is upon us! This means thousands of college graduates ready to enter the workforce with high hopes and unrealistic expectations. Although job creation is on the rise and many glamorous locations are beckoning college graduates to come and find work, often times these locations’ housing costs are way beyond the scope of what entry-level wages can afford. What a perfect time for Forbes Magazine to release its study on the most affordable states and rental rates for new job seekers. John Wasik, a Forbes Contributor, sums up which locations should be most attractive for entry-level workers:

“It’s tough to be a recent college graduate. You’re scrapping to find the highest-paying job and may be carrying loan debt. You must feel like you’re running uphill with a backpack of rocks.

If you’re looking to relocate, what’s the first economic decision you need to make? You need to know what prevailing rents are in the city you wish to relocate to relative to your income.

Let’s get the spoiler out of the way first: The largest, most glamorous cities are unaffordable unless you’re making way more than $20 an hour. You won’t be able to afford these places at all if your wages are around minimum wage.

According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, for most workers, that probably puts Hawaii, California, New York, Maryland and New Jersey out of reach for millions. Here’s what the report found:

“In order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, a full-time worker in America today must earn $20.30 per hour—a figure that is almost $5 more than the average hourly wage of renters in the U.S. A full-time worker needs to earn $16.35 per hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.”

 One simple rule of thumb is that average rents (or overall housing costs) shouldn’t exceed more than 30% of your income. In glamor cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and New York, you’ll get soaked for housing costs, which could easily exceed half of your income.

That puts a huge burden on you. Remember that you need to pay for food, transportation and other necessities. You won’t be able to save money.”

To view this article in its entirety, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2016/05/27/most-affordable-rents-states-for-job-seekers/#306c5d293d90

Tenant Screening – A Welcome Requirement?

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Background checkThe use of tenant screening, more commonly referred to as “background checks,” is growing in popularity in multi-family apartment leasing. These days just about every landlord and property manager utilize some sort of credit and rental history screening process for the financially-responsible party, but now the integration of background checks for residents is becoming just as commonplace. In the past 24 months, Preferred Corporate Housing has seen a significant increase in the communities which now require specific guest information to be provided so that criminal background checks can be performed on each occupant. While each property management company has it’s own criteria they use to evaluate whether or not they will accept or reject an applicant, PCH is finding that communities are following the guidelines and recommendations from their local civil authorities. With many states and municipalities having passed legislation requiring the tracking of criminal offenders and sexual predators, apartment communities may be required by local law to perform these tenant screenings.

“PCH provided our fully furnished apartments in 49 out of the 50 U.S. states in 2014, and we’ve seen an uptick in background checks/tenant screening processes in every state we serviced,” said Anna Doran, Senior National Account Executive for Preferred Corporate Housing. “This is a welcome trend from our perspective because, even though it may cause a bit more paperwork on the front-end, adding criminal screenings is a way to improve safety across the board for our corporate clients,” said Doran.

Another reason multi-families are adding these types of criminal screenings to their leasing process is in effort to eliminate “negligent leasing.” This is a widely used term in the multi-family rental industry used to describe a rental situation go awry due to lack of due diligence and pre-screening on the part of the community management. Negligent leasing is a real concern today as properties can potentially avoid theft, violence and damages by simply running a criminal history check on guests before accepting them to their property. Fair Housing laws require that if any screening of this nature is performed on one potential resident, it must be applied to all potential residents across the board.

“We prefer to place our corporate clients at communities that require these type of criminal screenings for guests because it adds a bit more peace-of-mind about the neighborhood,” said Megan Margetusakis, Director of Operations for PCH. “Our clients have an expectation of safety when they stay with us, and while we can’t guarantee that crime won’t happen, we can do our due diligence to reduce the risk by placing them in communities with resident screening requirements.”

Although resident screening services can potentially weed out unwanted, potentially dangerous neighbors, many corporate clients have balked at the requirements to provide the personal information needed to complete these screenings for their corporate travelers. This hesitancy is not due to fear that their employees will not pass the screenings, but rather protection of their employees’ personally identifiable information. Drivers License numbers, date of birth, and even social security numbers are often required for these screenings. International travelers may even be asked to provide copies of their passports.

“The most important thing for corporate travel and mobility managers to understand when it comes to resident screening requirements is that we must abide by the community requirements when placing your employees in our furnished apartments,” said Margetusakis. “Because of Fair Housing and other local laws, we do not have the ability waive these requirements on a case by case basis for any guest or employee. What we can offer are secure ways to provide the required personal information that doesn’t violate the company’s PII policy and/or place the employee at risk for PII exposure.” said Margetusakis.

Tenant screening, background checks, criminal history review…they are all here to stay, and it is highly-likely that their inclusion in rental approval processes will continue to gain popularity throughout the country. Corporate Travel and Mobility Managers should be prepared to counsel their employees on this requirement and talk through best-practices and safe methods for providing the necessary personal information for these screenings.

How to make your temporary apartment feel like home

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Many people choose fully furnished apartments for stays of 30 days or longer as alternatives to hotel stays because they want to feel more at home. They want the extra comfort and space than a cramped, cookie-cutter hotel can offer, but if they don’t do anything to personalize their furnished apartment, it can wind up feeling just as cold and cramped as the hotel they were trying to avoid. Here are some great tips on how to make your temporary furnished apartment feel less like a hotel room and more like your home.

Tip # 1: Rearrange the furniture – When the furniture company delivers your items, they will do their best to arrange the items according to the space, but they don’t know your routine or preferences. Instead of placing that comfy chair in front of the television, you may prefer that the chair be by the window because that’s where you like to read. You may want your bed up against a wall instead of in the middle of the room. As long as you are careful not to damage any of the furniture or walls, there is no reason not to design the space according to your preferences.

Tip # 2: Display photos of family and friends – Bring along some framed pictures of your loved ones and place them throughout your apartment. There are many products available that will allow you to hang things without damaging the wall, and you can also utilize your refrigerator to display your children’s pictures and artwork. Having familiar items like these will make the space feel more personal.

Tip # 3: Unpack your suitcase – Even though your apartment may be temporary, take advantage of the dresser and night stand! If you are constantly living out of your suitcase, you can never fully relax because it won’t feel like home.

Tip # 4: Buy some house plants – Studies show that house plants can reduce stress, fight off toxins, and even boost energy! Go to the local home improvement store and find plants that are easy to maintain. http://www.prevention.com/houseplants/

Tip # 5: Maintain your routines – If you always have Taco Night on Tuesday, or practice Yoga every morning, keep up with those important routines. The familiarity of routines will allow you to feel comfortable in your surroundings.

Even though you would rather be at your actual home, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Although you may be 500+ miles away, implementing these five tips can make your temporary apartment feel like home….or at least a little closer to it!

Apartment Living Safety Tips from Preferred Corporate Housing

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Preferred Corporate Housing offers fully furnished, temporary apartments in more than 10,000 cities across the United States, and we would like to offer these safety tips to make sure our guests are prepared for apartment living. While we do our best to offer the safest apartments in low-crime areas, all crime and emergencies cannot be prevented. These tips will help lessen the likelihood of you becoming a target, and will help you be prepared in the event of an emergency.

1. Purchase Renter’s Insurance – This will protect your belongings in the event of a fire, theft, or inclimate weather that may occur. It is also a good idea to inventory the description, serial number, and cost of your valuables. Take photos as well.

2. Lock your door – This may seem like common sense, but we’ve all done it. Never leave your door unlocked, even if you are just going to the mailbox, taking out the trash, or taking Fido for a short walk. Remember, criminals are looking for the easiest opportunity. Also, don’t leave a spare key outside under a door mat or potted plant. Not only are these ‘hiding’ places easily discovered, but this is also against most Apartment Community policies.

3. Never open your door to a stranger – Ask all utility/repair men to provide identification before opening the door. If there is no peephole, have the repairman slip the ID under the door so you can check it out. If you are still uncertain, call the telephone number on the badge to verify their information.

4. Check Smoke Detectors/Alarms – Make sure they are functioning properly and that the batteries are still good. If your apartment does not have a smoke detector, or it is malfunctioning contact your apartment manager immediately.

5. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle – Because of the large amount of vehicles in one area, apartment parking lots are a target for vandalism. To avoid damage to your car, do not leave valuable items within visibility. Keep doors locked at all times and park in well lighted areas if possible.

6. Be aware of evacuation routes and information resources in the event a fire or natural disaster should affect your area. Area Emergency Planning Information, local radio stations, and non-emergency police phone numbers are good things to have on hand.

Once again, Preferred Corporate Housing strives to provide housing options in safe, low-crime communities, and we are confident that these simple tips will go a long way to ensure your safety and well-being as a guest with us.