About Judy

Property Management Mentor

Client Retention – Property Management Style

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With so many of our owner/clients falling into the role of Landlord by chance, rather than by choice in the last few years, it’s no wonder we’re facing challenges gaining their loyalty. Often times, the rental property owner doesn’t have the slightest clue how to manage such an investment. In many cases, the property wasn’t originally purchased as a rental. The investment strategy, if one exists at all, is vague and constantly shifting.

 

A single expense, a “bad” tenant, or a month without income, and the “Accidental Landlord” panics. “How am I going to make my mortgage payment?” “I can’t afford to pay for that!” Does this sound familiar? Before you realize what’s happening, this property owner is moving on to what he perceives as greener pastures, with another property manager.

 

Gaining client loyalty is one of the greatest tests of a property manager. Without that loyalty, we cannot succeed. How can we, as professional property managers, create an environment in which the owner/client trusts us enough to remain loyal, even when management difficulties arise?

 

CB026637It starts before the contract is signed…

 

In our rush to sign a new property management client, it’s tempting to downplay the risks and real-world costs of rental property ownership. We might not ask the important questions that will tell us the client’s true circumstances and expectations. We might tell ourselves that it will all work out, as time goes by. Unfortunately, this strategy sets the stage for failure, for both the property manager and the owner/client.

 

The initial interview with a new owner/client is the most critical time in the client-manager relationship. Take your time, and make the effort to be sure you and the client are starting off on the right foot, with clear expectations.

 

Every property manager’s style is unique, but some things are vitally important, to us all.  For example,

  1. You want to be sure your new client knows what it’s going to take to get the property in “rent ready” condition. Depending on your market and property type, that might mean new paint, new floor and window coverings (or, those that look new), recently serviced systems and appliances (HVAC, smoke detectors, fireplaces, pools, etc.), damage-free screens on all windows, professional cleaning (including light fixtures and windows), and landscaped areas free of weeds and trash.
  2. Does the client expect to do his own cleaning and “make-ready” repairs? If money is so tight that the owner cannot afford to hire professionals to do the make-ready, what’s going to happen when the property goes a month or two without generating income?
  3. How much money does the owner/client have in reserve? This might seem like an awkward question to ask, but it’s important for you to know. We often tell our owner/clients that they need to have at least 3-6 months of cash in reserve, to take care of any contingencies that might arise during the term of our management.
  4. What about tenant screening? Does the owner wish to have input on tenant selection? From a risk management perspective, it’s important that your owner/clients agree to your objective method of qualifying tenants, and are comfortable leaving this important aspect of management entirely to you, the expert.
  5. What kind of spending authority will you have, and what are the client’s expectations as to communication, once the property is rented? Are you expected to contact the owner before having routine repairs made? Or, does the owner understand and accept your authority to oversee the day-to-day operation of the property?

 

These are just a few of the items you want to discuss in the very early stages of the relationship with your new owner/client. By setting clear expectations from the very beginning, the foundation for a strong relationship built on mutual trust and loyalty is established.

 

(This piece appears as a feature article in the June, 2014 issue of Southern Nevada REALTOR® Magazine.)  GLVAR_Mag

 

Do you have tips to share on building client loyalty? Please do so, by leaving a comment on this post!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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When Saving Time Can Cost You Time (and Money!)

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As successful property managers, we quickly learn the importance of streamlining our policies and procedures, by establishing methods to save both time and effort. The profit margin in this business is tight, and if we fail to employ standardization and time-saving strategies, we’ll never succeed. I’ve noticed the average burnout time for most new property managers seems to be about 2 years. That’s how long it takes to realize it’s not a money-making business, unless we have policies and procedures in place that make the job doable.

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New Fair Housing Class – Available Nationally

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justiceThe finishing touches have been applied, and it’s ready to go! A brand new class entitled “What’s New in Fair Housing: Cases, Settlements & Trends for Property Managers” is the result of many months of research, analysis, and compilation of information about the steadily-evolving trends and cases around the Federal Fair Housing Act, today. As a property manager, you’re undoubtedly aware of the huge impact this body of law has on our industry. Still, you may find yourself confused about such things as

  • The differences between a “service animal,” “therapy animal,” “companion animal,” and “assistance animal.”
  • What you can and cannot ask a prospective resident about his or her disability.
  • Whether you could be held liable for a discriminatory statement made by someone else.
  • Whether you can continue to use the same tenant qualification criteria you’ve always used, without risking a fair housing claim.

This course was designed as a 3-hour program, but can be extended to as many as 6 hours, depending on the needs of your organization. Believe me, there’s plenty of information to fill the time!

Not only will this class be an eye-opener for all who attend, you’ll actually take away some very practical tools for use in your day-to-day business – stuff you can put to work for your company right away!

Want more information? Ask away, by leaving a comment below!

 

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Assistance Animal Fair Housing Case in Reno Nevada

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BassetHot off the presses! The U.S. Department of Justice just announced a settlement with a Reno, NV apartment complex regarding the management’s treatment of residents with assistance animals. From the DOJ’s press release:

“The department’s complaint had alleged that the owners, employees and management company of Rosewood Park Apartments violated the Fair Housing Act by limiting individuals with certain assistance animals to a particular section of Rosewood Park Apartments; subjecting such individuals to pet fees; requiring assistance animals to be licensed or certified; and barring companion or uncertified service dogs altogether.”

The settlement in this case was $127,500, payable to a family who was denied housing (because of their assistance animal), Continue reading

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Property Inspection – During Tenancy

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Poor Planning

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something’s just not right…

Whether you inspect your occupied property management homes annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or more often (Careful here! How does your state define ‘harassment?’), you undoubtedly use a form for that purpose.

 

Is there a perfect form for an “interim inspection” of a rental home? Maybe. But, in most cases, the property condition issues vary with the locality and climate. Would you stress AC operation and maintenance a bit more strongly in Las Vegas, than you would in Bozeman, MT? Probably so.

 

The art is not in the form itself. It’s in knowing what to look for – with your own inventory, with your particular geographical location and weather conditions.

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Nevada’s AB194 – Tenant Damage to Property

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evictionShort, and sweet, Nevada’s AB 194 was passed by both houses of the legislature, and signed by the governor this week. It becomes law on October 1, 2013.

 

The new law specifically calls for criminal liability for renters who willfully damage or destroy the rental property:

“This bill clarifies that a person who holds a leasehold interest in the real property of another person may be criminally liable for the willful or malicious destruction or injury of that real property.”

 

The text of the bill is nice and simple:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. NRS 206.310 is hereby amended to read as follows:
206.310 1. Every person who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or injure any real or personal property of another, for the destruction or injury of which no special punishment is otherwise specially prescribed, shall be guilty of a public offense proportionate to the value of the property affected or the loss resulting from such offense.
2. It is not a defense that the person engaging in the conduct prohibited by subsection 1 holds a leasehold interest in the real property that was destroyed or injured.”

 

Tip for Nevada Property Managers: This might be good language to add to your residential and commercial lease agreements, as a deterrent to willful property damage. At the very least, you’ll want to remind your tenants of this provision of law if you become aware of any tenant-caused damage to the property.

 

 

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Tenant Death – The Property Manager’s Guide

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This is a revival of a post from a few years ago. I’ve had a couple of emails recently from property managers across the U.S. who are dealing with this issue right now, and they’re looking for answers. So, what does the property manager need to know (and do) when a tenant of ours dies in one of our rental units?  

Yes, I know. This is a rather depressing topic. Not something we ordinarily want to discuss. Yet, if you’re in this business long enough, eventually, someone’s going to die in one of your rental units. It happens. In my 30+ years as a property manager, I’ve had three deaths. The first was a drug overdose; the second a “peaceful” death, and the third was suicide.

No matter the circumstances, there isn’t anything much more disturbing than to find a dead body in an apartment or rental house you manage. The event can haunt you for months. At the moment you discover the death, it’s easy to make critical mistakes – confusion takes hold, and we don’t always think clearly about what we should be doing.

 

Following are a few guidelines to help you deal appropriately with a death in one of your rental units:   Continue reading

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Judy’s Bill Watch List – Nevada 2013 Legislature

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NevadaThis is shaping up to be a very light year for bills impacting the property management industry in Nevada. Both landlords and tenants have little to watch, in terms of new legislation on the horizon. Property Managers may be interested in a few of the items on my watch list, however.

 

Unless something changes significantly in the next few weeks, this is the last of my posts on the Nevada 2013 Legislature. I’ll keep you informed, however, should circumstances warrant a “heads up” for Nevada Property Managers. For now, in no particular order, here’s what I’m watching. You’ll note that each bill number listed links to the bill information itself:

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Nevada Seeks to Protect Tenants Who Are Domestic Abuse Victims

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stopping handProperty Managers in Nevada will want to follow this one…

 

Nevada Assembly members Lucy Flores and Elliot Anderson have introduced legislation that, if passed, would significantly amend the state’s Landlord/Tenant law to allow early lease termination for victims of domestic violence.

 

AB 284, introduced on March 15th, would allow a tenant to terminate his/her lease on 30 days’ notice, and/or require the landlord to change the locks on the rented property, if that tenant can substantiate that he/she is a domestic violence victim. The proposed bill provides three alternative methods of establishing the tenant’s status:  Continue reading

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