Property Management Holiday Procedures at Student Housing Communities

MHN talks to Miles Orth, EVP and COO at Campus Apartments, about the behind-the-scenes work that occurs when students leave for the holidays.
Miles Orth, Campus Apartments, Inc.

Philadelphia—It’s holiday season, which means that many students are starting winter break. As student-housing communities become mostly vacant during the holiday season, property managers get to work. MHN talks to Miles Orth, EVP and COO at Campus Apartments, about the behind-the-scenes work that occurs when students leave for the holidays.

MHN: What are the most important things student-housing teams should do when the students are on break?

Orth: Our main concerns when students are on break are security and frozen pipes. Our property teams check windows and doors in every unit to confirm that residents locked up properly. We also lower all of the blinds to prevent any unwanted visitors from scoping out items inside the units. For properties in freezing zones, our teams check that thermostats in every unit are on and set to 55 degrees, and we also turn the kitchen faucet on at a slight drip to prevent the pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes can easily burst and cause major damage to the property, so we take the necessary precautions to minimize that risk.

MHN: Are thefts a big issue? What should be done to minimize this risk?

Orth: In every college or university community there are thieves who prey on college students, and indeed, students can often become easy targets through their laid-back lifestyle and outlook. We actively communicate the risk to our residents, encouraging them to take simple steps to protect themselves and their valuables. We communicate via social media, emails, text alerts and flyers, and have found that a multi-channel approach is best for driving home the important message of safety and security.

MHN: What should be done to prevent frozen pipes?

Orth: As mentioned above, we check every unit to ensure that thermostats are turned on and the kitchen faucet has a slight drip to prevent the pipes from freezing, and potentially bursting.

MHN: What about the students who want to stay in their apartments over breaks? What accommodations do you make for them?

Orth: Campus Apartments is happy to accommodate our residents over holiday breaks. Our international student residents often stay in their apartments over the holidays. We ask that residents remaining in their apartments inform the apartment community office, and we then ask our staff to check-in with the residents a few times during the holiday. We also invite the residents to our community offices for hot chocolate, coffee, lunch or an occasional evening snack to stay in touch and create a feeling of community.

MHN: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Orth: Like most things in life and business, preventing problems from occurring during holiday breaks comes down to effective communication between our community staff and our residents. Finding multiple methods of communicating to ensure the message is driven home is necessary and expected by students.