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When RMCs Micromanage Property Managers

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Finding tenants. Handling evictions. Collecting rent. Property managers are responsible for many tasks that are critical to the very survival of a multi-family real estate investment.

First off. Don’t get me wrong. Working alongside and with a residents’ management company (RMC) can be great for a property manager. But… when they try to micromanage every aspect of your job – the result is decreased morale and job dissatisfaction among team members working on a property together.

How should a property manager handle an RMC director that micromanages every aspect of the job?

Dealing with Demanding Directors

Let’s say you are managing a complex, and you need to find a new tenant for a vacant apartment.

It’s been a typical day. In and out of the office and properties. In the afternoon, you make a visit to perform a property move-out inspection on an apartment that was recently vacated. The apartment building is managed by an overly-controlling Residents Management Company (RMC).

Potential leaseholders have submitted inquiries about the unit, and you have already scheduled interviews.

As you are leaving the apartment and heading home, you are approached in the lobby by, Terri, the director of the RMC.This particular RMC is an unofficial association created and managed by appointed tenants, without legal say so.

Terri wants to know who was going to be moving into the building. You tell her that you will be screening residents. Terri insists the RMC also needs to be present during the interview or to have their own, separate interview. Er.

Then, a call comes in. It’s a tenant calling about an emergency plumbing situation. Because the Terri is standing next to you, she overhears the plumbing emergency. Just as you go to contact your trusted plumber, Terri stops you and insists you contact a specific plumber that the tenants prefer. Ugh.

You leave the property, and your phone rings about an hour later. You hesitate. It’s Terri, the RMC manager. Now, what? You answer, and she is calling you to let you know, like a hundred other things she will need you to do, tomorrow and yadda yadda… Wait. Hold up. That’s going a little too far, don’t you think?

You don’t have to work under that much pressure.

Of course, the RMC has rights and can/should be involved in the decision-making processes – some tasks are simply routine and trivial and do not require the assistance of the RMC.

Because the two roles share some of the responsibilities (maintenance of the common areas in a building, etc.), some collaboration and discussion are needed. It’s understandable that anything with a profound impact on the building is discussed and decisions based on a group consensus.

However, mundane daily tasks and responsibilities of the property manager do not necessarily need the input of a third party representing the housing unit (like which plumber to call). Set your boundaries.

First, before you confront the director of the RMC, issue a notice that outlines the specific roles and responsibilities of each group. Ask them for their input and this is a great time to get clarification on any tasks that you are not clear on.

If the constant micromanagement persists after the notice, you may have to address the issue Terri, the RMC director. Always approach a confrontation with caution and be careful not to accuse or point blame. Explain that she is welcome to send someone to sit with you during the screening process, but that setting up two appointments is unnecessary work for both us and the tenants.

Then, explain that other trivial maintenance and tasks in areas of the building should be done by yourself and the property management company.

So that was just an example scenario. Every single property management and RMC relationship are going to be unique, and your response and course of action may vary from the situation above.

The point is, that yes, as a property manager, you will work alongside, with, or under the direction of an RMC. Do your best to be accommodating with tasks that have mutual interest, but don’t let someone take advantage of you. Draw your professional boundaries and abide by the roles and responsibilities set forth in the contract you have signed with the responsible party (i.e.,.landlord, RMC, etc.).

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We feel for all our over-worked property managers out there. A lot of people do not realize the type of pressure people in this industry are working under.

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