What's On My Mind...

My Mother: Part 1, See No Evil

I have to hand it to her - she always sees the best of a situation where others might be more inclined to see the GIANT PILE OF POO in the room.  An optimist verses a realist would be one way to describe our different styles of addressing issues.    

Take, for example, my mother's rental homes.   Because these rentals are across the state, she never inspects the homes or meets the tenants.  Instead they are handled by a property management firm and she places all her faith in them to handle all issues related to the rental, from advertising to tenant selection to repairs.  Seems reasonable to rely on them as that is what the name "Property Management" implies, right?  

So when she called last night to tell me that her rental was vacant and it was costing her a FORTUNE to renovate due to damages the last tenants made before they moved out on her in the middle of the night without paying rent,  I knew we were going to go at the subject differently.  I work with thousands of landlords and property managers daily at Rentec Direct, and hear similar stories often.  Yet she has only two rentals to give perspective, so I try to be understanding.  I asked her what security deposit the tenant forfeited, hoping she could at least re-coupe some expense.  She had no idea if the deposit was ever paid.  I asked how much deposit does the management typically collect? She had no idea.  I asked if the management team had conducted regular inspections.  She had no idea.  I then asked what was the collection procedure the PM uses for damages not covered with a deposit.  She had no idea.  And what about the tenant screening steps the PM takes to find a more qualified tenant the next time around?  Again, no idea.  She said "Honey, I just trust them to do their job."  

In all fairness, maybe she didn't anticipate needing to ask these questions of the PM prior to this deadbeat tenant eating up her rental profits.  I sometimes forget that the years I've spent in the industry set me up to look critically at procedure.  However, wouldn't you think this time around, after being burned, she might be a little more insistent the PM take steps to weed out potential risky tenants?  Gently, I suggested she ask these questions of the PM she's paying.  She assured me the PM knew what he was doing (still chanting her mantra of "oh, honey, it'll be fine...". )  

No, it won't.  There are recipes for success and this PM isn't following them.  He's a fast-food worker trying to be the executive chef.  Instead of reassuring my mother how they were working to prevent the tenant/turnover problem again, when he called my mother to ask for money to repair the rental, he shared that he was moving nine people into her 3-bedroom home and was having the new tenant "work off some of the deposit by doing the turnover work"...   Five red flags to me and the first one being that my Mom isn't concerned about :  A.) the overlooking of habitability standards with excessive tenants and potential for excessive wear-and-tear,  B.) having a tenant move into a home that isn't ready and safe and C.) having the tenant complete the repairs rather than a liscensed contractor usually resutlts in shoddy work.   And lastly, without a deposit on hand, the PM is setting my mother up for the same expensive turnover situation down the road.  

 

And yet, my dear, sweet mother can "See No Evil."  She can't help it.  She is an optimist. 

 

                                                                                     

 

Janell is a member of Rentec Direct, a web-based property management software program designed to help streamline tenant screening and the day-to-day operations of landlords and property managers.

2 commentsJanell Kittleson • September 17 2014 11:41AM
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