Protecting Residents and NOI from Predatory Movers

A bad moving experience can total thousands of dollars in additional moving costs and leave a new resident without furniture and clothing for months, notes Andrew Kern of Yardi Matrix.

Andrew Kern  Image courtesy of Yardi Matrix

A good move-in experience is one of the defining factors in a resident’s decision to renew, but what happens when that experience is tainted by incompetent or even criminal movers?

Research has shown that residents who were satisfied with their move-in experience remained satisfied 83 percent of the time when it was time for their renewal. Conversely, of the residents who were unsatisfied with their move-in experience only 27 percent became satisfied by the time they were up for renewal. Most new tenants will report a positive move-in experience if their new unit is clean and free of maintenance issues. Unfortunately, that positive experience can be tarnished by predatory movers.

What are predatory movers?

The Federal Department of Transportation estimates that over 40 million Americans move every year. There have been a growing number of complaints filed against movers with abusive or fraudulent practices. These companies lure in customers by offering low estimates only to reveal an abundance of hidden fees that must be paid before they will release the resident’s property.  Ultimately, the resident is stuck with a bill that can be two to three times what they expected to pay for a move that took weeks or even months longer than expected. In some cases, customers thought that they had booked with a mover that had good online reviews only to find later that that it was a disreputable company with a nearly identical name.

Often the moving company hired by the customer is not a moving company at all but a moving broker who passes the business to the lowest bidder. While most moving brokers operate legitimately, they do not assume responsibility for the move. This leaves the customer with little recourse if scheduling issues result in the customer being left in dire straits without a mover on their moving day.

A bad moving experience is stressful and upsetting. It can total thousands of dollars in additional moving costs and leave a new resident without furniture and clothing for months. This financial hardship might even result in difficulty paying their next month’s rent on time.

What can property managers do to help?

Post move-in surveys are valuable for monitoring resident satisfaction. While it’s great to know if the newly leased unit was in good condition it’s even better to know how the entire moving process went. Asking questions like Did you hire movers? Which company did you hire? and Were you happy with the overall experience? can identify which moving companies in the area are good and which ones may be predatory. Going forward, leasing staff will be able to make good recommendations to future tenants and save them the heartache of a predatory move.

Andrew Kern is senior research analyst for operations at Yardi Matrix.

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