My assistant manager thinks I'm being to soft- in oregon

14 Replies

I've been working at the same apartment complex for 8 years now.  I was promoted to manager early this year, and my new assistant manager has very different ideas on how to manage a property.  The asst. manager has a lot of property management experience, but all in California.  Oregon landlord/tenant laws are a bit different, so I knew when I hired her there would be a transition period.  

The issue I'm having is she is very black and white, by the book, "give them a notice and get them out" type of manager.  I am not.   I am aware that life happens to everyone, and one of the biggest lessons the previous manager taught me was; yes we manage a property for an owner, but we also provide housing for 160 households.  Having the power to affect their lives in such a major way shouldn't be taken lightly.  The property we manage is has very FEW problems.  Like dog poop is one of our biggest issues, few problems.  We do have a few residents who skirt the edge of what's acceptable as often as possible.  

One in particular has been paying late somewhat regularly.  I've had to give 72 hours notices occasionally throughout their tenancy, but the resident always pays within the 72 hours.  This resident has also been living at the property longer than I've worked there.  My assistant thinks we should just cut her loose. She's been paying late to much, and we just shouldn't tolerate it, and should tell her she needs to move.  To me this is so drastic and unnecessary. I mean at this point, I don't think I can serve a for cause notice.  Yes I have had to serve 72's sometimes, but rent gets paid.  When I make decisions, I try to think about any possible consequences.  Like if I did try to throw this tenant out, would a judge agree with me if I had to go to court?  Right now I don't think so.  She's complied with all notices.  

There are other similar issues going on between me and my assistant, but this one struck me as too much.  Am I being completely blind to what my property and owner need?  Should I be more cut-throat and strict about how I manage?  Any advice is helpful :)

As a PM you are beholdeth to the owner. Not your assistant manager.  Do what is right for the owner and for the running of the business. And with what you have described you are doing just that. 

@Rachel Payton , it sounds like some of your conflict with the assistant may be simple personality differences. Some people do only see things right and wrong or black and white, while others can see things in a deeper way. Both views are valuable. 

With regards to evicting that tenant, it doesn't sound like you have any grounds to evict yet? You have submitted the 72 hour time period for her to pay and she has done so. Unless of course she is on a month-to-month agreement where you can do a 60 day no cause eviction to the tenant. This tenant does not sound like the best, but if she is on a fixed term, I don't see how you can evict her? Unless I am missing something...

I am not familiar with with Oregon law, but in Iowa we serve a 3-day (72 hour) notice to quit. By law, this requires 2 days to mail there, 3 days of notice, and 2 days to mail back. So, if you wait 5 days to run delinquency, post a 3-day (which takes 7 days before you can file) this puts you at the 12th of the month, at which point, a tenant could still pay you before filing with the courts and would only cost the tenant the price of a certified mailing. By doing this, you are serving your owner by following proper procedure, and also providing a reasonable tenant ample time to procure rent funds. You can always choose not to file, or even dismiss a filing before the hearing if the tenant honors the promised payment date he/she makes, but you don't want to be stuck with tenant's empty promises and no way to hold them to their word. 

Remember, just because it isn't the way you do things, doesn't mean it is a California thing. I learn things everyday from people who do things differently and I always ask if it can be used to improve my current methods. That being said, nothing is ever black and white and we live in a world filled with grey. Use your judgement in such situations, because you are the PM, making you best equipped to make those decisions.

And for your dog poop problem, there is a company called poo prints that collects samples of all on-site pets and DNA tests the poop (for real). Simply send them a sample and they will tell you who's dog it is! Fines cover the cost and makes for a weary pet owner knowing their pets DNA is on file! No more pet waste notices!!

I had the same issue with an assistant that I hired but in the end I was the manager. It's up to you and the owner as to who you evict. Agree that the judge may not understand why all of a sudden you are drawing a hard line on a long term tenant when there is a history of late pays. Go with your gut, and do what you know you need to do. Maybe the assistant needs to move on and be a manager somewhere else so she can be the decision maker. As as an assistant to you, she's not in that position.

Also I always kept vacancy down by managing the late payers. If you start evicting everyone who pays late you will have vacancy which is going to effect the property's bottom line, as well as legal expenses which are difficult, if not impossible, to recoup.

as long as the late fee is paid with the rent, i am fine with it.

and yes, you are too soft.

sounds like the advice you're getting is sound. You are the manager, and you are managing the issues, not letting them become problems. When a tenant is late, but still within their legal right to stay, your role is to inquire and encourage payment. This keeps you from monthly evictions and constant turnover, which can cost the rental company a great deal and could cost you your job.

Sounds like 'managing' isn't what the asst. is into, but she is into following the rules strictly. 

In the rental world, we have tenants BECAUSE there are people who live by gray terms in a black and white world: tenants ARE those people, and they usually have a tougher time with strict rules. That's why they are tenants, usually. Knowing that people behave in that way provides your owner the opportunity to provide housing to people that will never 'black and white' themselves into having a mortgage, and you are simply allowing both ends-the 'black and white owners who pay bills and own properties' and the 'gray tenants who will never have much' to co-exist and live in harmony. 

You are not just a property manager, but an issue manager, paid to keep rents coming in and turnover low. Do what you know is best, and if the asst disagrees, she can re-locate. 

I agree, rent late paid within the company guidelines is what your managing. Assistant Manager wants to manage you, don't discuss it any further with her. As long as your late renters pay within the time limits are doing good job.

Tenant could be on some type of gov assistance program those checks usually never clear banks till the 3rd of the month. 

It's nice to show 100% collected on your property but in reality this rarely happens in that large of a complex so if the largest problem you have is doggie dodo . Then I'd ask the assistant manage to walk the grounds more and take a scooper with her so she can determine what areas are being neglected by tenants while they are out walking thier pets.. A assigned area is best for dog walking,  if you don't have one clearly get it marked. 

Every one is different but as already mentioned it is up to the owner to determine how they want you to deal with issues. Have you confirmed with your employer how they want to manage late payments or have you simply done it how you choose. Maybe you should find out.

If I were the owner I would make it very clear that late payments are not tolerated for any reason. As the manager you would be expected to met my standards. 

The woman that is regularly paying late does so because of the way you manage the building. I expect your assistant would get her on track to never paying late again in very short order.

Rachel, it looks more like a problem with the assistant undermining your self-image of a good manager. 

You are proud of keeping this complex fairly stable and helping the owner make money on it.

The assistant is now questioning your professionalism and this is what probably worries you. She is probably less experienced than you, she is a new team member and she is trying to prove her own professionalism. 

But finding out who is right is actually black and white. I'd suggest you can look at it from a different perspective. It's not about you being right or wrong. It's just a different way of doing the job. There is always more than one way to solve a problem. Some could be better than the other. Normally we find out out through trial and error.

As a good manager, can you concede you might be making a mistake? Being able to admit we have made a mistake is a way to learn. You might also gain more respect in the eyes of your assistant if you admit there could be a better way to do it and then ask the assistant for help. People respect those who have to courage to admit mistakes - especially superiors. 

You can discuss it with her, ask her to find out the reason for late payments, make a case with figures - plan how you would evict the tenant, how much it will cost all up, how long it will take, how you will get a new tenant etc. She will learn something in this process and you might learn as well. 

There is even a chance she will like you more. 

I appreciate the feedback and constructive criticism. I am able to admit if I am making mistakes, and maybe I do need to be a little harsher when it comes to giving notices.  I can make that change.  But I'm still not going to force out a person who has called our complex "home" for over 8 years (which in our industry is gold), when they have been compliant with every notice I have given them.  I think the bigger issue will be navigating the differences between myself and my assistant.  I do appreciate her experience and attitude.  I think it will push me to be a little more strict.  But I love that the company I work for realizes we provide housing for families, not just collect rent for profit.  Thanks again for the words of wisdom.  I will definitely post again if I have concerns or questions in the future! :)

The problem you are missing is that you should never have to give a good tenant a "notice". Notices are only sent to bad tenants and you seem to be conflicted for emotional reasons in seeing this point. You are teaching your tenants very bad habits that some day you and they may ultimately pay for.

You are allowing personal feelings to interfere with doing your job and in the eyes of management (the only ones that matter) your assistant could begin to shine.

I mean, if they consistently pay you late fees (extra rent) that's a sweet deal.  However, I would not:  Make multiple trips, spend time talking to the tenant over the phone multiple times or write up 72's, move around funds to cover costs (lose out on interest) and then accept late rent fee free.  You pay late by day X plus fees or you're gone.

160 units was mentioned but not the class of the building. Your assistant coming from California could have been dealing with different tenants there. Rents might have been rising so fast in Cali that if a tenant gives any grief they get them out and simply raise the rent for the next tenant and recoup releasing costs quickly.

Where you are at the tenant base and rental increases might be more stabilized so if a tenant goes out it takes longer to get that cost back even with slightly higher rent per unit.

So there are a lot of variables (building location, building age, building size, class of tenant,etc.)

You are the manager and they are the assistant. If they would like to be a manager then they have to work their way up with your organization or go elsewhere where there might be an immediate opportunity.

My employee knows I welcome suggestions BUT I am the owner of the business and call the shots. So there is a difference between someone trying to give helpful ideas to the opposite of trying to undermine many things you do because they wish they were making the decisions.  

@Thomas S. I never said they were a good tenant.  I said "life happens".  And when I have a tenant who struggles from time to time so I have to give them a notice, and they comply with said notice, that it's not grounds for eviction.  It's not an emotional reason, it's a moral one.  The company I work for agrees.  Thank you for reminding me why I do things the way I do them, and not the way you do.  My vacancy rate thanks you too :)

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