One Email Short of Firing the Property Manager

8 Replies

So I have been using the same property manager for almost 2 years now on one property I have a few states over from me. From the get go it was a rocky relationship. They did work to the house without my consent, and blamed it on email not getting to me so they assumed it was OK (needless to say words were exchanged, they paid half).

I am more on the Laissez-faire style of management when it comes to my management skills being at work or in business. It has worked out well for me, granted there comes a time when one needs to step in.

There has come a time when I have felt I needed to say "let's not forget who is working for who here now." Lets just say their professionalism is sub par and there communication never even makes it to the tee. (see what I did there?) I have to go to them to see what the updates are, instead of them letting me know first hand.

I have stayed because one, their turn over fee is cheap $150 and two, they charge 8% of monthly rent.

What almost put me over the edge with this company was a tenant left half way through the lease, they didn't even bother to tell me why. Just that he had put in a notice. I didn't even question it, I had just rented out another place and was aggressively looking for another property (which is under contract now). A little voice in my head told me to give it time see how it plays out. 

I sent them an email asking for an update. "Oh,we have had quite the traffic we even have someone interested who is an insurance relocation, they will pay 200 dollars more but it is only a 6 month lease...don't worry though you will come out on top with the extra 200" This really got to me (in a bad way) I didn't even write back. Again the voice in my head you had a plan stick it to (got that mentality from trading stocks) 

Needless to say, that didn't happen. I stepped in again. They had the price listed to high, so I sent them an email, telling them to lower the price. Which they did but they didn't notify me of receiving the email and taking action. 

Again the ideas of how I would draft up the FIRE email ran through my head. Also, who else would I get to do the job. Another deciding factor.

Few days went by, I checked the website and to my surprise it showed that someone had put in an application. I waited again a few days.

I again asked for a update. Then I got the email every landlord wants to hear. "We have your place re-rented they moved in yesterday on a one year lease for $40 dollars more then the previous tenant." 

Which is amazing because the other tenant moved out 4 days ago and they moved in yesterday so there was a total of 3 day turn over, which I have never even heard of. I was preparing for a month or two of vacancy and I got 3 days #winning. 

So with that all said I the PM is slightly off the chopping block. But it's interesting how if I had acted irrational I may have had the place vacant for a while. Because I would of had to fire them then get a new PM to take over

I suppose the moral of this story is:

Weigh your pros and cons

Try not to panic and think rationally

Step in when needed (it is your business) if you don't feel something is right inquire

Know your market, they have the title of property manager, but that doesn't mean you have to take their word on everything, in this case it helped because I told them to drop the price. 

Not sure if there was anything to take from this, but I hope you may of took something from my experience 

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for sharing.  I have not heard of a 3 day turnover either.

That's a nice turnover period, though I think you should remember all of this hassle and start interviewing other property managers.  This time and anxiety has a cost as well, just an intangible one.  It sounds like you're saying that you don't trust the PM, but that it's ok because they did a quick lease-up.  

If you have a quality replacement in the on-deck circle, you might decide quicker about whether to fire the current one. 

2 things jump into my head:

1) You get what you pay for. You can't expect that someone charging below standard rates will provide above standard, or even normal standard, service.

2) Nice turn over! I just had a 0-day turnover yesterday. Key turn-in at 7PM on the 31st, new lease and move-in on the 1st. I love the hot rental market!

Instead of firing them, try working with them, review your management contract and update if you see things you don't like.  For instance, if you don't want 6-month leases, make sure your management agreement states 1-year minimums.  Make sure it clearly states how much they can do without actual approval from you as not hearing from you should not be considered consent, but understand that in an emergency like heat goes out in January that they can arrange for repairs if they cannot get in touch with you.  

It took a while for me to work out the kinks with my favorite managers.  My contract said under $200 they are allowed to go ahead without reaching me, but then they fixed a 6-year old dryer for $125, then shortly afterwards, fixed same dryer with another over $100 charge, supposedly for a different problem, without calling me, as both were under the $200 limit.  We worked it out now where I should be called on all appliances that are no longer under warranty so I can decide if I just want to install a new one before they send a repairman out.  

As far as firing them, weigh the issues as you will find that no manager is going to do it as well as you would or everything the same way you would.   If they are paying you rents, providing good monthly statements, screening well, filling vacancies all in a timely manner, then I'd try and work with them on the other details.  

@Jordan T.

 Yes, trust is definitely an issue here and a big part of having a good business relationship. I think I am going to try and be more up front and not let things roll off my shoulder. We will see what happens.

@Bryan O.

 Exactly the case in this situation, you do get what you pay for. I think that just about applies to everything in life. With the exception of harbor fright lol. I have found some of their tools are better quality then the brand names I can get at Lowes

Something tells me you are going to continue having these sorts of issues with them, but I'm glad this most recent one worked out.

If I were you I'd start interviewing other PMs (as other posters have mentioned). You are getting a good deal now but you get what you pay for, and you may find yourself wanting to switch when that time comes. It'd be good to have someone else at the ready.

I would definitely keep your eye on them. From my experience (primarily with employees) it is extremely rare that I have thought seriously about firing one and then didn't realize eventually that it was definitely the right choice. Usually afterward, I would regret not having done so earlier. I'm not saying you should fire your management company, but I would definitely watch them extra carefully going forward as I would expect to have problems with them in the future.

I aim for two day turnovers in my PM business.  Handyman/paint the first day, cleaning the next morning, and carpet cleaning in the afternoon.  The timing doesn't always work out that way, but it's my goal every time!

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