The Seven Most Common Complaints about Property Managers
We Started With a List of Twenty-Three, But We Narrowed It Down.
It’s a little close to home, to be a property manager and decide to research what owners & tenants complain about their property managers about. But no matter what industry you’re in, it’s a good idea to have a firm grip on how the outside world sees you so that you can take special efforts to not be that company. So, in the name of honest self-appraisal, here’s what we hear are the most common problems people — tenants and investors alike! — have with their PMs:
#7: Our Property Manager Won’t Handle Some Details.
Every property manager has a level of services that they’re comfortable providing — not all of us can be full-service. Generally speaking, however, you’ll know this up front, because every service the PM is willing to provide will be laid out in the contact that you sign when you hire them. If you need a property manager to handle details that your current PM won’t, the answer is pretty simple: hire someone who will.
#6: Our Property Manager Overspends on Everything.
Another semi-common complaint of investors who hire property managers, but this one requires some brutal honesty. There are property managers out there who will operate without a keen eye on your bottom line – unfortunately, too many. Most of the time, if you hear yourself making this complaint about a property manager, the problem is communication & expectations. If you set parameters upfront and ask your property manager to explain why they want to do something, you’ll usually avoid them spending your money “recklessly’. Of course if they still do, then replace them.
#5: Our Property Manager Is Spread Too Thin.
If your PM is overseeing more than 75-100 properties per full-time employee devoted to the management job, you’re probably right. (Less for a new manager, but not really any more for a very experienced manager — there is a pretty hard limit on time per week that no amount of experience can overcome.) If they’re handling meaningfully fewer properties than that and you’re still feeling unattended-to, it’s time to ask why, and ask what can be done about it.
#4: Our Property Manager Never Explains Why.
This is definitely a problem with your property manager — open communication in every direction, from tenant to PM to investor and back again, is an absolute necessity for a successful PM. If you’re a tenant, unfortunately, the most you can do is ask questions persistently. If you’re an investor and you’re not getting the communication you need from your PM, demand it. There’s no good reason to not know what’s going on with your own investment, period.
#3: Our Property Manager Is a Jerk!
This is another tossup complaint — sometimes, the PM really is being unreasonable. Hey, it’s a stressful job, and when you’re dealing with the fourth tenant of the day and the first three were being completely unreasonable, it’s easy to take it out on the fourth. But just as often (if not moreso), the tenant complaining has genuinely unrealistic expectations. We’re not jerks — you’re the one who’s16 days late on your rent, buddy. Sorry.
#2: Our Property Manager Never Returns Our Calls.
Have you tried calling on Wednesday? Seriously, the timing of when you try to get ahold of your PM — whether you’re a tenant or a client — can make a huge difference as to when (or if!) you get a call back. There are occasionally some PMs who will avoid an issue thinking that somehow that’s better than facing it head-on. We call them ‘the future unemployed.’ If your manager is an avoider, quite frankly, ditch them.
#1: Our Property Manager Takes Forever To Get Anything Done.
Yes. We do. Or rather, more accurately, it almost always takes forever to get anything done when you’re talking about managing a property. If you’re an investor and you’re wondering why you’re still not seeing rental income on that property you signed on last month, it’s probably because your PM is waiting on some government official to do their job. If you’re a tenant and you’re wondering why your dishwasher is still broken, it’s probably because the PM has three other more dangerous repairs that are draining his limited budget and you’re doing dishes by hand for an extra week isn’t nearly as important as 303 Franklin’s crumbling basement stairs. Or the PM may be waiting on owner approval. Property management just isn’t a job that gets instant results, and you’ll find that nearly every PM in the country has this complaint — because yeah…it’s true. Our apologies!