In the first version of A Rental Property Management SNAFU Story, I shared with you how my property management company in St. Louis decided to close their doors without any notice to anyone. Some things have happened since then that I thought worth sharing.
The Property Management Search:
First, after interviewing almost every company in the city and asking all of my contacts in town about them, I have found myself fairly unexcited. When I found a few companies that looked promising, their contracts seemed to differ somewhat with what I was told in my interviews. If someone tells you that their monthly cost is 10% with no other supplemental fees, then their contract should not say that your monthly cost is “10% OR $xxx.xx, whichever is higher”! I don’t know . . . I’m a bit picky about people who leave out the whole truth! I’ve spoken to people who charge $75 to plunge a toilet, and others who have the nerve to charge $200 per property as a set-up fee. Mind you, I was told that this $200 was a discount from the $400 that they typically charge per property – WOW! My 4 days of interviewing really gave me a clear picture of why people aren’t high on property managers.
That said, I currently have a family member with experience in property management helping me run my buildings. I’ve decided that I don’t trust, or I am not willing to get ripped off by those companies that I’ve spoken to.
On Whitener & Flynn Properties . . .
As I had 2 properties being managed by the company, one of which that was listed for sale, I have spent a lot of time on the phone trying to reach anyone at Whitener & Flynn. Other than one call that I will talk about momentarily, I have heard nothing from anyone. What is actually more disappointing than anything else is that my various calls to the agent who listed my property for the company, Ann Schrodt, have gone unanswered. This behavior, is in complete violation of the Realtor’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice:
When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary
I certainly don’t feel like my interests have been protected by anyone at the company.
I was contacted the end of last week by one of the partners at the company, Travis Whitener. He called to let me know that a contractor I was inquiring about was trustworthy, and to apologize for the abrupt close of his company. While I was appreciative for his call about the contractor, I didn’t really know what to say to him otherwise. It took more then a fair share of constraint to keep from ripping him a new one. He explained to me that the company closed so quickly because of the advise of the company’s attorneys . . .
I asked him if he planned on sending checks to me and the rest of the owners for monies owed, and I was promised that these had actually just gone out earlier in the day (Thursday, July 12). As of this morning, I have yet to get an ounce of mail from Whitener & Flynn LLC or any of its officers. In doing a bit of homework, I did check with the US Bankruptcy Court, and as of 12:30 pm CST today, the company hadn’t filed for bankruptcy . . . at least there is an ounce of hope that I’ll see my money again.
With that in mind, I thought it would be important to share some more details that I’ve learned over the past few days. In interviewing several of my tenants, I have learned that according to them, the company acted negligently. One tenant informed my new representative that she had been complaining about a hole in her floor (large enough to fall through) for some time, but nothing was ever done about it. I learned of roach infestations, peeling paint, and other complaints that went unanswered under the management of this company. I was appalled to hear these things, as I would never allow things like these to go unanswered. As we speak, all of these items are being taken care of.
I’ve also learned from one of my contacts, that at least one vendor that worked with Whitener & Flynn has yet to be paid for dozens of jobs that they did before the close of the company.
All of this information paints a very different picture then that I was accustomed to. I have always complemented the company on the good job that they were doing, but it seems that I had been fooled.
As I always say, chalk it up to another learning experience!
Meanwhile . . .
I believe that this story is one that needs to be heard. I will try to get the word out to local news organizations, so perhaps we can get a more full picture of what exactly has been happening.