Good Landlord? Bad Landlord? Or Somewhere In-Between?

Ever wonder what your property manager thinks of your decisions and coping skills and the other interactions they have with you as they help you muddle through each unique tenant?  Well wait no longer.  I’ve come up with a list of the “types” that we see each day.  Take a guess at yours!

The Organizer:

You left a manual for the tenant and property manager so they can take great care of your home with all the knowledge that you have to impart. You saved every scrap of paper on your home since before you bought it and it’s been alphabetized in a catalog with owner manuals, receipts and even the name of the guy that came installed the item back in 1997. He still sends you a Christmas card.  Oh yeah, you better update him of your new address for the next holiday season!

The Dreamer:

You imagine that you did all of the super-cool things that the organizer actually did. You did not, but in your head, it’s allllllllllll there.  You may also imagine the home as it was when you left it years ago.

The Blamer:

This owner can’t fathom an expense that isn’t covered by another party and you are going to find it dagnabbit! The moment something breaks, this owner starts the process of figuring out how it broke. If a cause isn’t found, the vendor is charging too much and taking advantage or should have repaired it differently – even if they didn’t instruct this to the vendor before repair was approved. Next up, the property manager should have predicted this or recommended actions that would have prevented this from ever occurring in the first place. The most popular phrase for this owner is “it was fine when I lived there”.  Yes, I’ve got 5 emails from you with that phrase on it, ’cause I counted.

The Bob Vila: 

You know what needs to be done by season and age. Even though you don’t live there anymore, you remember that life is going on and things needs addressing on a specific schedule. What you do at the home that you live in, you also do at the home your tenant lives in.  Don’t be fooled, the Bob Vila can be a man or a woman and is not to be confused with the DIY guy below.

Rose-Colored Glasses Owner: 

You have a vision of your home the way that it was when you moved out and you believe that it still looks the same, even 5-years later.  You are surprised to hear that anything at all is not in the same condition as it was when you saw it last.  Similar to The Dreamer.

The Investor:

This type is my personal favorite ’cause you get “it”. You know the long-term goal and you govern yourself accordingly. You are playing the long game. Investing in better fixtures because they last longer and that is the better financial choice. You have a savings account for repairs and a plan to move forward with certain items that may be coming up. Best of all, you read what is sent to you and take action on things swiftly.  Between tenants, you are gung-ho about making updates.

The Ghost:  

We met you once when we took over your property for management and we’ve only heard of you since then.  Your home is in good condition, your tenant is fairly low-maintenance and when we email you for approval, you quickly respond “go ahead” and that’s the end of the conversation.  You don’t respond to any inquiry with additional questions or ask for an update.  You are truly okay with anything and it’s freaky!    

The Basket Case:

You like daily calls and emails to get assurances that no one can give, but that isn’t holding you back. You can’t fathom a financial loss and if you do have one, there must be an absolute reason or answer that once known, will remedy the loss!  We just haven’t given you the right answer yet. You are going to google and send articles to us to apply solutions for your home, that aren’t even legal in your state, because of a blog that you read by a property manager in Kansas. You can ask the same question 100 different ways hoping to get that desired answer from ANYONE at your property manager’s office.

The Know-It-All:

Whatever the property manager says is pure hokum. You’ve got the plan and the solution to everything. You will do the research, vet vendors, hire the winning bidder and want the tenant contact info to schedule the whole thing. You can find it cheaper and better. Why bother having a property manager, in fact, you used to be one. Later when the skimping that was done to save money bites you in the butt, it’s on the property manager to fix the catastrophe. That’s what you pay them all that money for, no doubt.

The Matthew McConaughey or “Surfer Dude”:

This one is a rare find.  Every single time that we call you, you say that you are at the office, but we are certain you are lounging on a beach somewhere.  Drink-in-hand or a fishing pole maybe.  You’ve never lost your cool and there was this one time that we were certain even YOU would be agitated by our update about your home.  When we give you good news, you are super-stoked.   Why can’t they all be like Matthew?  And YES, that is what we all imagine you look like whenever you call!  

The Hide & Seek Owner:

This owner avoids calls and emails to avoid spending a dime or answering questions that may result in an expenditure – even in the future. The clever ones can respond to emails and still completely avoid approving work with vague statements.  If we can track you down again, we may get approval for repairs.

The Meany Pants:

You got word that your property manager needs your input to take action on your home, and you are going to respond, but not without bullying him/her because you need to get aggression out because of the money that you are being “forced” to spend on your own home. If you are mean enough to your manager, maybe they will pay the price just to calm you down, or the vendor may give them a break on your behalf to stop the torture.

The Underwater Owner:

Many owners fall into this category. Some are going to tell you about it every time you chat and some will bear the burden in silence. It’s not the property manager’s fault that the housing market took you for a ride after all. This owner can really make you take your job home. If you are an empathetic property manager, you are likely at home racking your brain as to how you can ease their pain or come up with a way to help them pay for things that the home needs. The unfortunate fact is that whether you can afford repairs or not, you shouldn’t rent your home if you cannot maintain it.

The Broke-as-a-Joke Owner:

Something needs a fixing and you can’t afford to fix it. So you like to ask your property manager “now what do we do?”. “We”??

The “Zestimator”:

This owner is regularly researching the market via Zillow and correcting you on your findings with no actual real estate knowledge. Zillow is not reviewing upgrades and photos and age of home and a thousand other things that must be considered to determine value. This owner is also likely to google every repair for any item at the home. They can diagnose the garbage disposal issue from Hawaii if needed and send you YouTube videos to forward to the vendor going out to the home. They want a full dissertation on the findings of the repair so that they can discuss the bill later.

The DIY Owner:

You live in the same city as your rental home, and even though you hired a property manager, you want to be all up in the mix!  You go to the home every time there is an issue so you can vet the situation and instruct the property manager what is to be done. You’ve given your tenant your number to bypass the property manager to attempt to avoid expenses. You handle all issues UNTIL things get dicey. Once things go off the rails, you immediately want control reverted back to the property manager who is out of the loop now. Now he/she gets to figure out what you have done or said and your tenant is confused because you were besties before that and now you’ve gone MIA.  Now we are in charge of the break-up talk!

The Thurston Howell III:

You are extremely well-to-do and everyone knows it, but if you look at your rental home, you could be confused with the “Underwater Owner”. You are perfectly able to pay for repairs at the home with the recommended plan, but you duck out and delay repairs until the cost includes secondary damage too! You are typically busy taking over small countries, so you never “got the email” or “read the inspection” that we sent you, so repairs are always delayed and your tenant hates us.

The Lonely Owner:

The management of the home is running like a well-oiled-machine, rent is deposited on time, but you want to talk about “things” pretty regularly. You go nuts if you haven’t checked in, so you may even invent reasons to reach out or stop by the office or home. Surely there is something to discuss…

The King/Queen of Denial:

You wait until the last possible moment to address important issues which may leave your property manager or you in the “negligent” category. While not intentional, you are in the driver’s seat of the landlording train. Your property manager can’t (or prefers not to) act without your consent, but it’s a sticky situation if they are in breach of contract or the state’s landlord/tenant laws under which your home is being governed.  You imagine that the home looks just as it did when you lived there.

Gotta-Have-Estimates:

You want an estimate on everything and maybe several. It sounds smart in theory, but some repairs are common and we know what the costs should be.  Equipment of a certain age may not be worth repairing or getting an estimate on. Vendors don’t want to visit a home and inspect equipment on small items without a service fee (that we know you don’t want to pay). A good property manager will tell you if something is worth fixing or if it’s best to replace the item based on the age/brand/tenant-friendliness of the item. If you have to repair something more than once, you have probably already paid for a new one which would have saved your tenant some headache.

To Estimate, or not to estimate, that is the question

  • Example #1: A 10-year old garbage disposal. There is no reason to repair it and it wouldn’t be worth repairing if you could find someone that does it. The best you can hope for is that there is a jam that can be extracted and the unit is working again. If something in the disposal shouldn’t have been there, your tenant is responsible for the repair.  To pay someone to take it apart to find an issue, is going to cost far more than it would to buy a new one.
  • Example #2: A door bell.  A new door bell kit is around $40 at Home Depot.  No vendor will go out and attempt to figure out a broken door bell for less than about $80 just to examine yours.  Then, they have to go to the store to get the part after attempting to fix it, they will charge for the additional task which will equal more than $40.   The exception would be if it is just a cracked button – those are about $5 for the materials and the cost of a vendor service fee.

In property management, you get to see it all and you learn something new all the time, even when you think you have seen it all.  If you are lucky, you have a good sampling of different owners and different tenants to keep things interesting.  Signing off!!  Mary – PROperty Manager for Stephanie Clark and Team

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Suburban home with front porch

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Stephanie Clark Property Management has been delivering outstanding service to homeowners, investors and tenants in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk since 1995. Whether you own a home that you are not able to sell or you already have investment property but are not satisfied with your current property management company, we can help! You may be tired...
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