Property Managers Reveal Seven Pet Peeves

We asked property managers, “What are the most annoying issues you face as a Property Manager?” – here are some of their answers…

Several of the replies we received were about dealing with people (i.e. angry tenants; people that speak a foreign language; handling evictions). This list includes seven of the most annoying people issues faced by property managers and how to deal with them, (you are going to relate to number six!)

1. Screening Residents

While interviewing and screening potential tenants, a property manager’s communication skills are put to the test. A common complaint reported by property managers is when people demand to know if there are children in the building, but because of fair housing laws – they are unable to tell them. Besides, would you really want to tell them in the first place?

If you say, “yes, there are children,” a potential tenant might be scared off – meanwhile, the children might be older, well-behaved, and wouldn’t even be noticed. Or, possibly a tenant that lives in the building has a newborn baby that cries all the time. Imagine telling this to consider residents!

Even though withholding information might be hard to do when a possible tenant asks those specific questions, but you must withhold this security measure and not share this type of information.

2. Tenants that Habitually Break the Rules

Typical rules for apartment complexes are in place to maintain safety and upkeep the appearance and atmosphere of the building/s. When tenants disregard the rules, work and stress increase for the property manager.

Every contract signed with a leaseholder should have specific criteria laid out that describes the tenant’s responsibilities and rules for living in the housing development. Refer to these policies and follow the pre-determined course of action as outlined in the agreement when tenants are in violation of important rules.

3. Parking Violations

Parking disputes are an ongoing saga for property managers with frequent problems such as not enough parking spaces for tenants. Often, instead of using only their assigned parking spaces, tenants will use their spaces and those that belong to other tenants. Another common scenario is visitors and tenants that simply park wherever they please – regardless whose spot they use and whether or not the appropriate spot is available.

Clearly labeling the parking spaces with the associated apartment number is a way to get the message across to tenants regarding who parks where. If problems persist, issue a building-wide notice that states the problem and requests cooperation.

4. Doors Propped Open

You go to the property to check on things, and you see the front communal entrance door propped open. Grr… Tenants that leave doors propped open can get under the skin of any property manager… fast!

A number of reasons exist as to why leaving doors open is such a problem. First off, leaving the communal door open is a huge security risk for all the other tenants, not to mention the increased liability this puts on the property owner. In addition to the security risk, the issue of energy efficiency is at stake, which can raise the cost of rent for all tenants if it exceeds the usual amounts due to a door being habitually left open.

As much as you would like to knock on the door of the tenant you just know is responsible for leaving the door open and give them a piece of your mind – that is not the best plan.

Take a non-offensive approach by writing a notice that asks all tenants to help ensure the door stays closed and remind them of the benefits to residents such as safety, security, energy efficiency, and keeping the cost of rent as low as possible.

5. Porch/Patio violations

Driving by the property you manage, you can’t help but notice a couple of tenants that are always leaving a mess on their porch or patio – visible to the entire neighborhood. Another tenant has a grill outside which violates the fire codes.

Before you go around handing out fines and violations, it’s best to communicate with the tenants and be sure your expectations are clearly defined. Send a notice to all the residents of the building, and announce the day and time you will be inspecting patios. Also, include a complete list of all the porch or patio items that would be considered a violation and the associated financial penalty – as many tenants are simply not aware. When introducing the letter, be sure to approach it in a non-judgemental or condemning manner, simply state the reason these regulations are in place in the first place (i.e. In an effort to keep the community clean and enjoyable for all…).

6. Sanitation

Tenant cleanliness is an ongoing challenge for property managers. The bold truth is, some people live like slobs! I know this sounds harsh, but as a property manager, you have undoubtedly encountered this in your line of work.

To address this issue of sanitation with tenants, use the same approach as mentioned above for the porch and patio violations – but list out the sanitation expectations and penalties for noncompliance. Also try setting the example by demonstrating the specific cleaning tasks that are expected of the resident, and information on how to do it.

7. Language Barriers

Nothing can set you behind your management schedule quicker than dealing with a tenant or potential tenants that speak a different language. Even if they know some English, depending on the situation at hand, it may not be enough!

If you can truly not understand what a tenant is telling you, the best thing to do is stop the conversation and continue with the help of a translator. People skills are an absolute must in this situation as you try to use a much body gesture and nonverbal communication to let the tenant know you will be returning later.

Keeping people happy is not an easy job. Take it from any property manager. You have to be flexible and wear many hats to keep leaseholders and property owners satisfied. After all, troubleshooting problems as they arise and managing all aspects of rental unit/s on behalf of a property owner is a busy job. The fact that they can pull this off is just another reason why I love property managers.

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