Contact tenants when using PM?

11 Replies

I'm fairly new to the whole landlord thing and have a general question regarding contact with tenants when using a property manager. How many of you that use a property manager reach out to your tenants anyway and give them your contact info? I currently have 2 SFH with 2 different property managers (homes are 250 miles apart). I have plenty of faith in one PM company, but I'm already suspicious of the other after only 2 months into the agreement. I want my tenants to be able to reach out to me in case they have an issue with the PM, but don't want to bring a bunch of hassle and negate the value of having a PM.

Am I asking for more headaches by reaching out to the tenants directly, or is it a reasonable thing to do?

@Rob Myers   my tenants have no clue who I am or any of my contact info, and I like it that way. I receive no phone calls from them ever, yet I have all of their contact info just in case I need it. At the same time I trust my property managers will make the right decisions unless they prove to me they won't, and they only contact me in extreme circumstances (expensive repairs, etc.)

Believe me, the second you give the tenants your info, they will no longer call the PM, but they will call you about every little thing. They may even try to pay you instead of the PM. If they are going to be late on the rent, they will call you with some hard luck story. Sorry, but I don't want to hear it.

I use a PM so that I can be a total a-hole if necessary and have no personal relationship, and no emotions involved and treat my properties like a business. I also am an investor first, so having to do my property manager's job for them would not be cool. If they aren't doing what you want fire them and hire a new PM.

What does your agreement with your PM say? I would say that you need to get your trust with the PM straightened out or find a different PM or a different arrangement (self manage). What's the point of a PM if you have to have the tenants have your contact info?

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We have a good relationship with our PM, but we do inspect our out of state properties once a year or so.  If tenants are having any issues with the PM, we would find out at that time, as we actually ask them to either be there or provide a list of any current problems or issues they are having so we can handle them when we're in town for the inspection.  I have given tenants my number before, but only for a specific purpose (last time was that I had a new washer installed and didn't use my PM as they only install one brand for a specific price, and I didn't like that option, so I did it long-distance, coordinating delivery with my tenant directly).  None have called me for other reasons, likely because they know I'm out of state, so them having my number hasn't been an issue.     

I work for a Property Management company in Indianapolis. We do have a few tenants with Owner info, but not many. The only problem that I have known is when a tenant tries to play the Owners and us against each other. We recently experienced that with one of our tenants. We were trying to schedule a periodic inspection (they have changed the locks and we don't have a current key) and they cancelled our inspection twice and stood us up on another occasion. We charged them a fee of $75 for the last one (missed contractor appointment fee set up in their lease) and they called the owner and complained. We then notified the tenants that we were going to schedule our locksmith to go out and re-key the house since they would not get us a key or work with us to inspect. They called the owner again to complain. They finally allowed us to inspect the property, but we still did not get a key... Unfortunately, it makes us look somewhat unprofessional in front of the owner in this specific instance and the owner doesn't want us to re-key the home because she's worried about losing the tenants. (They actually take very good care of the home and pay on time all of the time.) The biggest fear is that we use the keys if we need emergency access to the home and the tenants aren't there. It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.

If the owner wasn't involved... we would have already re-keyed the locks and charged it back to the tenants for changing the locks without permission (against our lease agreement) and not providing us a key.

Be advised... occasionally tenants can be like children of divorced parents trying to pit one against the other.

In my opinion, you should never give your tenant your contact info. You might as well not have a PM then because i is you that they will be calling an not the PM. There's a difference between being an investor and a landlord. Once tenants start calling you, you've become a landlord.

@Ross Denman  , that owner is being very short-sighted, letting fear of losing a tenant cause many problems potentially in the future.  While I have given tenants my number and speak with them directly about problems or issues during my inspections, I would go to great lengths to make sure that I do not undermine the PM's authority as it is critical to insuring my investment as I am so far away.  In my opinion, if they undermine your authority, they are putting their own investment at risk.    

In the properties where I have a pm the residents do not have my info.  On a few occasions a tenant had an issue and demanded to speak to me.  My PM called me and handed the phone to the resident.   While they can contact me, they find out quickly that I support my staff and their purpose in speaking to me better be significant -not just to whine.

Thanks for talking some sense into me.  My tendency is to want to stay engaged, but I need to give the PM room to do their work to get the full value of the service.

@Dawn Anastasi   , I have one property in northern WI and my most recent purchase is in West Allis.  Without naming names, I'm working with one of the larger PM companies in Milwaukee with my West Allis rental.  

A couple concerns I had out of the gate: I specifically asked that I review the lease application before approving a tenant.  They had almost gone through the entire process when I caught wind of it by chance calling on another issue.  According to the office, they never put that note on my file.  During my last weekend fixing up the property, I had two families show up for showings, but the PM never showed (which is how I found out about the "approved" tenant).  Also, I had their maintenance staff take care of a couple issues where the correspondence took over a week to get a response to a question.  We'll see how the next few months go, but if I had to decide right now I'm going elsewhere when my contract ends.

@Rob Myers   - Here is my 2 cents worth of opinion.  I have been in business for a very long time.  I have had various employees and subcontractors that I had suspicions about at various times.  If you have doubts about ANYTHING, use whatever means necessary to either put those doubts to rest or confirm them so that you can act appropriately.  DO NOT WAIT.  Instinct is your best guardian.  Remember, it is your money, your risk, and your property.  Protect all of the above.

You should, from time to time, do certain checks on any contractors, including your property managers, even if you do think they are being honest.  It is called being diligent.