Managing Your Property Manager: How to Prepare For Rental Disasters

Managing Your Property Manager: How to Prepare For Rental Disasters

2 min read
Drew Sygit

Drew is a classic overachiever, bringing intensity and passion to everything he does. While in the mortgage business, he rose to a VP position at the first broker he worked for and then started his own company.

In the pursuit of excellence, Drew obtained several mortgage designations and joined mortgage and several affiliate association boards. He also did WebX presentations and public speaking engagements. It was during this time, he started personally investing in single family rentals, leading him to start Royal Rose Property Management with two partners. He also joined the board of a local real estate investors association, eventually becoming its president.

The real estate crash led to an offer from the banking industry to manage a Michigan bank’s failed bank assets they acquired from the FDIC. The bank went on to eventually acquire four failed banks from the FDIC, increasing from $100MM in assets to over $2B while he was there. After that he took over as president of Royal Rose Property Management and speaks at national property management conventions.

Former board member of Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association, Financial Planners Association of Michigan & Mariners Inn (nonprofit)

Former taskforce Member of Michigan Association of CPAs (though not a CPA)

Involved in mortgage business for over 18 years, obtained mortgage designations: Certified Mortgage Planner, Certified Mortgage Consultant, & Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist

Board member of Real Estate Investors Association of Oakland; President since 2012

2009-2012 Shared-Loss Manager for Talmer Bank (now Chemical Bank) handling FDIC failed bank loan loss strategy, reporting, REO management, collections, & gap analysis

Started investing in real estate in 1996

President of Royal Rose Property Management since 2001

Drew received an MBA from Wayne State University, concentration in Finance & Marketing.


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If you’ve gotten the first three parts of this series well in hand (you and your PM are on the same page in terms of expectations, information flow and documentation), you might think you’re good to go. But in property investment of all industries, there’s one last detail that you might never need — but like all good insurance policies, you’d be a fool not to have. It’s a coherent, premeditated emergency response plan for your property manager to execute.

The Property Manager’s Role

You need to know what the most common types of disaster in your area are, and you need to sit down with your property manager and develop a plan for each type of disaster. They need to understand exactly what you need done in the worst-case scenario, just in case.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Adding Systems & Outsourcing to Work Less in Real Estate

For each kind of disaster, your plan should include:

  • How to recognize a disaster or potential disaster, and when to start alerting others
  • How to keep the tenant safe (always the first priority!)
  • How to minimize damage to the structure
  • How to minimize damage to the tenant’s stuff
  • A list of the most important people to call immediately upon recognizing the danger
  • A list of the most important people to call after the danger has passed
  • A plan of how to get back into rentable condition as quickly as possible after it’s all over
  • A list of all of the things that need to be documented during and after the whole event

Obviously, for each kind of disaster, these items will take different forms — tenant safety is a very different thing during a flash flood than it is during a riot — but those seven steps are consistent. Sit down with your property manager and go over each step in detail.

You don’t have to come to the table with all of the information. In all likelihood, your PM already has a long list of contractors, tradesmen, disaster cleanup crews, disaster recovery experts, water and mold damage remediators, and so on. The important thing here is that when the planning is done, both of you are holding copies of the same plan and you both agree that it’s the right plan.

Your Role

While your role in most quotidian aspects of dealing with your investment property consists primarily of helping your money grow, when a genuine disaster hits, you should be prepared to take a more active role. In the moment, you can often help yourself immensely by having a copy of your own disaster response plan on hand and offering to start making those critical phone calls the moment your PM calls you and tells you there’s a disaster at one of your properties.

Related: The 5 Things You Need to Do to Dominate Property Management

As things wind down, after the catastrophe is passing, your goal should be to take stock and keep your eye on the long term. It’s quite likely that your PM will be busy for a couple of days or even weeks dealing with the disaster recovery crews and tenants. Anything you can do to enact your “return to rentable condition” plan during that time is purely money in your own pocket. And as long as you and the PM are indeed following the same plan, you don’t have to worry about replicating effort. A quick text that says, “I’ve done parts 2-7 of section 3” will suffice to keep both of you working smarter.

How do you have your property manager handle emergencies?

Let me know with a comment!

If you’ve gotten the first three parts of this series well in hand (you and your PM are on the same page in terms of expectations, information flow and documentation), […]