I am stationed outside of US and have a house rental, managed by a property management company in Brandon, Florida. I have been arguing with my property manager (PM) regarding the cost of their vendor's bid for $1,325 for fixing plumbing repairs in my house. Without agreeing to this amount, I have unfortunately asked my property manager to send me in April 2014 an invoice for plumbing repairs and scheduled the plumber to do repair work on May 27 2014. I planned to meet with the plumber on that day to tell him to repair only some of the plumbing work and negotiate the costs. He did not come. On May 28 and 29, I emailed the PM that due to the failure of the vendor to arrive on the schedule date, the PM should not reschedule the plumber and cancel his services. I did not hear from the PM until June 6, writing to me that the vendor had repaired some of the plumbing work for $1,325, attaching the vendor's invoice with photos of what he did. I told them that my latest instructions, i.e. not to reschedule the plumber/cancel his services, and that I did not explicitly agree with this amount. However, the PM told me to pay the full amount but I offered to pay half of the amount only. They insisted I pay the full amount. Am I right not to pay in full the amount as the PM breached their legal responsibility for not following my recent instructions to cancel the vendor's services and their failure to inform me of the rescheduling and that they should actually shoulder the costs, at least half of the $1,325? They threaten me that the vendor would be running after me with fees, if it is not paid in full. Appreciating your advice.
Ed, everything depends on your contract. This is why it is so very important for both the Property Manager and the Owners to have a clear contract regarding each other's responsibilities.
If it is stated in the contract that the PM must have your permission for any repairs over and above such and such amount, and did not do so in this case, they are responsible!
If your contract states that they must contact you for any repairs over $2,000.00 and this repair was for only $1300 and some change, then they didn't need your permission. However, if you had put your request to them in writing, this time, that you wanted to meet with the Vendor, then this might be evidence for you to at least bring it before a Judge, providing this wasn’t an emergency..
If the job was an emergency that couldn't wait for you to come to the site immediately, then the PM may have had to do what they had to do in order to protect the building, the unit, the tenant and their belongings. They would have acted in your best interest, because they were there actually seeing the problem and the damage it was causing.
Once again, everything depends on the Contract between you and the PM Company, the situation going on at the moment, whether it is an emergency that had to be handled now, or if it was really a blatant disregard of your request.
Sounds like you were trying to do and end run around the PM. Why did you not just tell him that you would get some other bids on your own? Simply having a PM does not take away your right to do work on your home independent of the PM. But since you asked the PM to take care of it (with the intention of separately negotiating with the plumber) you set yourself up for this in some way. The PM collects your rents right? So he can withhold the amount until you pay the bill. Its probably not worth the hassle to sue him for the small amount. So bite the bullet, learn the lesson and move on. If you don't trust the PM, you need to get a new one.
thank you Anish and Nancy for your advices. Yes, the PM collects the rent. I will double check the contract. I am still a newbie with renting property and relied mostly on my PM. It seems another lesson learned.
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