Property Management is my thing. I’ve been at it for nearly my entire adult life. Dating, on the other hand, is something I’ve done on and off, over the years. Surprisingly, I’ve never quite gotten the hang of it. Like a fish out of water, the dating scene just hasn’t been a good fit for me.
There are many lessons to be learned in the dating world, no matter the outcome. One of those lessons came to me pretty early. I learned to be careful what I say about my employment. When I would come right out and tell prospective sweeties that I’m a property manager or landlord, it conjured up some pretty powerful stereotypes. Those stereotypes served to draw some rather strange prospects to my door.
This is not a smiley-happy post. In fact, the topic is downright depressing. 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 25+ years, 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 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.
As professional property managers, we recognize the importance of implementing rules, regulations, policies, and procedures for the protection of our clients, our renters, and ourselves. How often do we view those policies with the eyes of the consumer? How often do we consider Fair Housing Law when implementing our policies?
“A man’s home is his castle.”
These are powerful words for most Americans. Whether we rent or own our homes, as a society we recognize the importance of having a home to which we can retreat from the pressures of daily life; a place where we feel safe and secure. For renters, this security can be threatened by unreasonable intervention of the landlord. Once our security is threatened, we begin to question the motives behind the perceived threat. The policies and rules imposed by the landlord are often a source of Fair Housing complaints by renters. Continue reading “How many people can live here?”→
A question that arises frequently among property managers is,“How can I be sure I’m treating all rental prospects equally?”
The initial telephone interview with a prospective resident sets the stage for the landlord/tenant relationship. Your responses and behavior at this critical stage are the first indication the prospect has of your professionalism. And, for you, it’s your first opportunity to make a connection with the prospect. These moments will either make or break the rental transaction. Many fair housing complaints are filed in response to prospects’ perceptions of how they were treated at the very earliest stages of the relationship. Continue reading “Consistency and Documentation – The Property Manager’s Mantra”→
I received a call today from a property manager who’s been in the business nearly as long as I have. She’s a 3-person operation, is well respected, and manages about 250 residential properties. We started talking about policy manuals, and she confessed she’s never had written policies and procedures for her office. Why? “Because we’re so small, we don’t really need them.”
I beg to differ. Establishing and maintaining clear written policies and procedures for handling the day-to-day property management activity is a key factor in successful management of residential housing. Even if you have just one employee, you need written procedures.
Some of the benefits of written procedures…
Written procedures help prevent mistakes
Written procedures assure consistency in your actions
Written procedures save time, especially when training new employees
Written procedures improve the quality of service you provide
Written procedures free you from worry about your employees’ decisions
And, having clear policies and procedures, and monitoring adherence to those policies is a requirement under Nevada licensing law.
Your Policy Manual should be a living/breathing document, allowing for updates and changes, as circumstances arise. It’s not something meant to be neatly bound, then put high up on a shelf somewhere in the back office. In fact, why not allow everybody who is invested in the daily management of properties in your office be a contributor to the policy manual? If your employees are invested in defining operational rules and policy, they are much more likely to advocate for proper procedure, and follow your company’s policies.
Here’s a question from a Nevada property manager I think most of us can relate to:
__________________________________ “I just evicted a tenant for non-payment of rent. It’s obvious to me that he took what he wanted, and left the rest. You wouldn’t believe this mess! Some of the junk he left is actually useable, which is a fortunate twist. I’m not sure where he moved, but I’m really glad he’s gone. It’ll cost me about $3,000 to put this place back together. His deposit was that much, so I’m only out the rent. I’m just glad to be done with him. I AM done with him, aren’t I?”
This week, I’ll be teaching a class in Reno on the subject of accommodating residents’ needs when a disability requires either physical changes to a dwelling unit, or exceptions to the housing provider’s rules and policies. In preparing for the course, I ran across an exchange I had with a property manager a few years back:
“I manage a 5-unit building, all one level, that is about 9 years old. A prospective renter who is in a wheelchair told me that I need to widen the entry door, and install a ramp going in the front door. He also asked for grab bars to be installed in the bathroom. He said I have to do these things at my own expense. I thought modifications were supposed to be paid for by the person with the disability. What should I do?” Continue reading “Modifications for Residents with Disabilities”→