Communication and Your Property Manager.
Updated: Dec 11, 2018
In the past few years in property management, I've encountered so many different personalities. Between tenants, owners, vendors, agents; you name it, I've likely seen it! Property management services to an extent must have some blanket protocols. For example: owner monthly statements must actually be sent out monthly. But not every owner wants to wait monthly, right? Some owners want to be able to track everything that is happening, in real time. That doesn't mean they check it daily, but they want that option. Depending on the manager, they may or may not want to offer that to their clients; whatever their reasoning. So, what I'm getting at here is not every management style will work for every home owner, and not every home owner will work for every manager.
The thing is, as managers, we cannot read your mind. Personally, I manage 125 rentals at the moment, and we have approximately 100 different owners. No two owners are identical. Some are really on top of us to the point of micro management. Others are so laid back I'm not even sure if they actually exist. I even had one owner that refused to allow us to pay him any rents. We just held everything in trust. Then, when his tenant moved out after a few years, he asked us to take those rent proceeds and completely remodel the house, and put it on the sales market. Because of this wide variety of expectations and needs, we have to be adaptable to handle them all.
Most managers do try to be flexible with the needs and expectations of owners, even to the point of bending over backwards to achieve their goals, only to receive little to no appreciation. Look, I don't need a participation medal, here, but a simple thank you is something we very rarely see anymore...don't turn me into an old lady who sits on her porch, shaking her cane at those hooligans in the street...because back in my day we stood on the sidewalk and weren't reckless like that (even though everyone knows I was reckless at various points in my life as I grew up). I digress.
I think the important thing for owners to understand is that managers aren't shady lowlifes that are out to get you and steal your money. Don't get me wrong, there are bad apples out there, but overall, managers do not intend or seek to harm you or your tenant. Simple conversations as the relationship evolves, concerning the expectations on both sides, being open to what your property manager tells you, too, not just what you dictate to them, can help in the creation of a lasting profitable relationship for you both. Give your manager the opportunity to fix something you're not happy with. They can't possibly read your mind, and they work for you. Tell them when something is not working, and give them a chance to fix it.
Right now, your manager is probably not sleeping at night, as they worry about the tenants whose heat has gone out, and how much it's going to cost their owners. They are working tirelessly, literally, behind the scenes for you. Often answering calls in the middle of the night with emergencies, being berated by tenants, and stressing over how they are taking steps to keep you and their other owners protected. Because we easily get overwhelmed, our communication is notoriously not as fantastic as it could be (for many of us). So, don't feel bad if you reach out to your manager a lot. They should at least be reasonably responsive. Just make sure you have an established, mutually agreeable form of communication you can use with them. If you're trying to reach your 60-year-old manager through Snapchat, you're doing it wrong.
Admittedly, communication is an area in which I personally struggle as a manager. It's not for lack of work or effort. It's simply that I usually find value in waiting to disseminate certain bits of information, because I don't want to create a panic. For example: tenant reports a leak to us in the bathroom. I know this can go downhill very quickly. So while my system is designed to send that information out the owner at the same time I receive it, I may stay quiet about it while we send our vendor out to assess the damages. I'd rather come to an owner with, "here's what happened, and here's the resolution" whenever possible. Rather than (as it sounds in my mind), "as you know your tenant put in a work order and we don't have any other information." Now, that may be the status for a little while, as we're waiting on the vendor to get over there to assess the situation and report back to us, but I feel like it makes us sound like we're doing nothing. Certainly, we can (and should) even just say that: waiting on the technician. I guess my fear there, then, is I have no control over the technician/tenants' schedules. So we may not have an answer right away, depending on the item, and I don't want the owner to think we hired crack pots or are incompetent. So, finding a balance I feel is difficult. Too much information, or too little, can both be damaging.
Whatever the happy medium between you and your manager, make sure you both are working together to feel it out and cultivate it. It will lead to fewer misunderstandings and frustrations in the future.