If you’ve ever rented a property in your time (which I’m sure accounts for most of us!), then you may have slightly skewed opinion of property managers. They are, after all, the gatekeepers of our most sacred space: our homes.
In a tight rental market, they appear to hold the balance of power between the limited number of homes that are available and the flood of would-be tenants who are desperate to move in.
But generally speaking, property managers are a positive bunch of people who are actively in the business of matching the right renters with the right property.
They also want to do what’s best by their landlords: we are their clients as well. So when they contact you as the property owner with a niggly or annoying issue, they’re probably thinking the same thing as you:
No, I don’t want to be contacting you about this either.
This was the case when Queensland property manager Marco* had to contact one of his landlords to request approval to process a small plumbing issue.
The request was to upgrade the washers in a property’s bathroom. Not a big deal, right? Not at first glance… except for the fact that the plumber had just visited the property a few weeks before, to change the washers in the kitchen and repair a leaking pipe in the laundry.
The tenant hadn’t mentioned the slow leak in the bathroom at the time, which had since developed into a substantial ongoing trickle. The landlord was being lumped with another $75 call out fee to deal with a repair worth no more than $5 – and he was not happy about it.
“In a perfect world I would have asked the plumber to check the other taps during his first visit, as they were all the same vintage. But because the tenant hadn’t mentioned anything about the bathroom, it just didn’t occur to me,” Marco says
Sometimes, things slip through the cracks.
While Marco wasn’t technically in the wrong in the above scenario, he wasn’t demonstrating amazing customer service either.
It goes to show that property managers are people who are prone to human error every now and then, just as we all are.
In this instance, it led to an internal policy change. After discussing the above scenario with the landlord and his agency’s principal, Marco and his team made the decision to ask all contractors to do a quick review of other appliances, fixtures and fittings during a call out.
It doesn’t cost anything extra, as it only takes the contractors a few minutes to conduct the review, which they understand could lead to additional work.
Mistakes can lead to positive change.
This new set of procedures has had a great impact already. It not only helps landlords to avoid future unnecessary double-ups for call out fees, but it helps property managers to identify potential issues before they blow out.
“Within a few weeks of implementing that policy, I had an electrician who was called out to replace a broken fan call me from a property,” Marco says.
“It turns out there was also a faulty electrical outlet hanging out of its socket behind the couch in the living room. It was actually illegal and even worse, incredibly unsafe – there was a toddler living in that property and the consequences could have been tragic. For an extra $65 he replaced it on the spot and we avoided a potential catastrophic issue that no one was aware of.”
Ultimately, it pays to remember that property managers are on your side. If you’re not happy with the level of service your property manager is providing, shop around for better service. There are plenty of outstanding PMs out there and in my view, when you’re a landlord placing an asset worth hundreds of thousands in their hands, you shouldn’t be prepared to accept anything less than exceptional!
Til next time, happy investing!
* Name changed for privacy reasons