Buildings suffer through a lot of wear and tear during move-ins and move-outs. For each move, there are always two sets of people who are coming and going and elevators, common spaces and the building staff are all taxed during this time. In addition, residents are sometimes disturbed as their elevators are either taken out completely or are under limited use while the movers reserve and utilize them during this time period. It’s for this reason that many buildings charge something in order to offset the costs that they are absorbing. These charges can be by way of a deposit, fee or both. Depending on your building, it may be prudent to charge both to protect the asset under your care.

The main difference between a deposit and a fee is what the resident will get back after they have completed their move. In the case of a deposit, we normally hold the funds until the move is complete, the areas have been checked for damage and the building staff signs off that everything is ok. We have seen a variety in the actual sum, ranging from $100 to $1,000, depending on the building, location and socio-economic makeup of the residents.

Unlike a deposit, a fee is a charge that will never be returned to the residents who are moving. The fee offsets the cost to the building for the move-in or move-out. There is a lot of work that is entailed when we’re dealing with moves. Building staff must protect the elevators, make sure that the common areas are also protected, ensure that the movers are properly licensed, confirm that they are out of the building at the end of the day (as per the House Rules) and tear-down any preparations once the movers have completed their jobs. These responsibilities are taking the building staff away from their general duties for the building as a whole and force them to oversee a specific project for an individual. Beyond the building staff, there is also a cost to the wear and tear of the building’s systems. If the elevators are used 50 times per year for moving heavy furniture in and out, then it makes sense to charge to offset some of the repairs and maintenance that may be required as a result of the extra loads. Normal move-in fees that are non-refundable range from $250 – $1,000, also depending on the service level of the building and the socio-economic makeup of the residents.

Moving policies such as this are a vital piece of the operation of any building. Offsetting these costs with a deposit and a fee (yes, your building should do both) will go a long way to ensure that the buildings are kept damage free. The residents who are moving and have submitted deposits and fees will have something on the line to ensure that their movers take the utmost care of the building and its systems and any captured fees will be a benefit to the building as a whole. Soft income is hard to come by and this is one piece of soft income that is put to great use.