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A new software system makes managing rental apartments a snap.
Jim Simari, the senior vice president at Harlem Property Management, oversees a portfolio of some 45 buildings, including HDFC co-ops that own income-generating rental apartments. When the state Legislature passed the sweeping Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, Simari realized that the business of managing those apartments had changed overnight. Under the new law, a landlord’s failure to act within set time frames on lease non-renewals, rent increases and other obligations results in financial penalties. “It means you really have to be on top of your game,” Simari says. “You need to have a system that ensures you move quickly on all sorts of things.”
That’s when Hal Coopersmith, a partner at the law firm Coopersmith & Coopersmith, literally came to the rescue. “I wanted to develop a calendaring system for our landlord clients,” he says. “I talked to tech people who gave me a concept, and then I got in touch with a software developer.”
The result is a proprietary system called RezCue, which sends a series of staggered, customized emails and text messages to clients, alerting them to upcoming deadlines for notifying renters of plans to raise the rent or terminate a lease, as well as deadlines for apartment walkthroughs with a departing tenant and the refund of the security deposit. The cost of the program is $50 per lease, with a reduced price for a bulk sign-up.
When Coopersmith pitched RezCue to Harlem Property Management, the initial reception was cool. “At first I thought it was something I didn’t need,” Simari says. “But after Hal explained it a couple of times, it clicked that we manage seven or eight HDFC co-ops that own rental apartments. It’s a little bit tricky tracking expiration dates and giving notices. So I decided to give RezCue a try.”
Simari had his managers make lists of all their rental apartments in co-ops and condos, then sent a spreadsheet to Coopersmith, who uploaded the data. Soon, notifications of deadlines were arriving via email and text at Harlem Property Management. Deadlines were met, and fines were avoided.
“It’s been a great complement to what we already have,” Simari says. “This is an automatic process that doesn’t require maintenance or monitoring or updating. Best of all, we don’t have to hire another body.”