The problems with rental property managers


Barb: I have an active real estate license, but I hire a property manager to handle my rentals because I don't want to have to interact with the tenants and that kind of thing. I have asked for copies of the tenants' application and their credit report, and the property manager says they can't legally give me a copy. I don't know why because I'm the property owner plus I have a real estate license and have access

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, Barb, I can't tell you whether they are right, wrong or indifferent. I would say this, that, some of that credit application certainly has some private information on it like social security numbers and so forth. For them t have done a credit report on a tenant, the tenant would have had to sign a consent for that and that consent may be listed to that property management company only. If you want to get a copy of these in the future, you should have them modify their form that says that they consent to not only give it to the property management of the company, but to the owners as well. Now, let's bring Barb up. Barb, are you still there?

Barb: Yes.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Barb, I am always telling listeners about how little luck my listeners had with property management companies and, if stated another way, how much often they call and complain about property management companies. And then just out of curiosity, I had a loyal listener call me and say, "Tom, I'm a property manager. Why are you always slamming property managers?" And I said, "Well, tell me about yourself. I'll promote you if I'm a believer." I didn't hear from her again. Maybe she's listening right now. But, Barb, how's your property manager? No names please.

Barb: Terrible.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. It's not just me then.

Barb: They're all terrible. I'm on my third one.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. So, Barb, from your years of experience, what does it take to get a good property manager? What's the qualifiers?

Barb: Well, I thought years in business and expertise would, and to make sure that the property is being maintained.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Is that the biggest issue?

Barb: It seems like all they're all interested in is getting in a tenant, they don't care who it is, and then getting that monthly check. I just spent $8,000 on a rental property that was managed by a property management.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Meaning that the tenants tore it up and the property manager was not paying attention?

Barb: Exactly.

Attorney Tom Olsen: So, Barb, just out of curiosity, when you look at your management agreement, does it require the property manager to do at least a drive by once a month?

Barb: Yes. Well, not once a month, but it's stated in, and they're pretty vague about it. They're all vague.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, I'm sure they are.

Barb: They don't want to be committed.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right.

Barb: And of course they can say they do that anyway, and how would you know what the inside looks like.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes. Okay. Well, Barb, thank you for calling and for confirming what I've known to be true, just from my limited experience, Barb, and best wishes to you. Now, if you're a property -

Barb: So what do you recommend you do?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, Barb -

Barb: Make their contract, the property manager's contract, as strict as the property lease?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Barb, I think that there's no solution to this other than you are doing your own drive by once a month to your properties and taking a look about what's going on there. I don't know any other solution, Barb. I can tell you this, I own a rental property, and that rental property's in my neighborhood. So that when I rent to tenants, I say, "Look, I'm driving by here twice a day. I know what's going on." And they'll look at me and like, "Uh-oh. This is not the guy for me." Or they'll say, "Hey, no problem." Yes.

So here's what I want to say, if you're a property manager and you're out there listening to me right now, and you're saying, "You know what? I'm a great property manager." Hey, I invite you to call me or contact me. We'll talk you on the air. We'll do a little quiz. We'll see what it takes to be a good property manager, and that is beyond just collecting rents and taking your cut, but taking care of the property and the landlord as well. That's what we're asking.