A personal experience from the owner:
At the age of 16, my family went through a significant change. My Dad who had entirely taken care of the family through the buying of homes, fixing them up, selling some of them, but mostly renting them out for income, tragically had a stroke that affected our family permanently. Everything about the properties was unknown to me or my family, and we were left scrambling on how to move forward without my Dad. We quickly realized we needed professional help, we got a referral from a friend on a Property Manager. Here is how it went.
We quickly hired Lynette to be our first Property Manager to help us, listening to her about how she would help us figure it all out for us, and that we didn't need to worry, and how we could focus on my Dad who was going through severe medical problems. While the Property Manager did a great job on sending us our startup fees for us to pay her, the income she generated us was started out low and got lower every month. We had given her 7 properties, all rented out, and we had a general idea on how much we would receive as income after all normal fees and commissions were paid. Never once did we get anything close to what we expected.
Sensing that something was wrong, we requested a way to view the actual expenses for every home on a ledger which she was required by law to provide. We quickly realized what was going on. The Property Manager had been charging an additional fee for every event that occurred for any of our properties. She charged a vacancy fee, a repair fee, an eviction insurance fee, a transactional fee for wiring us money every month, and every other fee she could think of, every month there was a new type of fee. The fees started to pile up, and we were getting upset with the complete lack of professionalism, sensitivity, and overall sense of being taken advantage of.
But what we really couldn't understand, was the many repairs done without any proof of payment or receipts for any work done. After a couple of months of this, we asked her for a receipt for all the work done, after all, even though we didn't understand any think about Property Management, or had the option of asking my Dad due to his condition, we knew that we needed proof of repairs for tax write offs. After more pressure from us, she finally produced receipts, all made from her husband as the contractor. Highly illegal for not disclosing the relationship concerning conflict of interest or other, she was completely oblivious to this or any other Real Estate ethic code violations she was committing. Lynette's poor customer service eventually had led to good tenants leaving, and her rush for finding new tenants, no matter how unqualified they were, to get them in to our houses just so she could get the extremely high 50% of the first month's rent. Whether they would last or not wasn't her concern, she was getting paid no matter what happened afterwards.
Not only did she not help us, she added to our family's anxiety, sadness, and overall feeling that we would not be able to get through this extremely difficult time. It was clear to us that we had a made a mistake in hiring this Property Manager. We moved on from Lynette, eventually getting all the houses rented out again, all the tenants happy, and all the income we were expecting month after month.
The difference between a Property Manager and a great Property Manager is that the good ones will make your life easier, lets you take care of things that matter to you the most, generates more income for you than you do on your own, and puts you in a better spot in the future with higher rents, well taken care of homes, and general sense of financial freedom.
I learned this 24 years ago, and I would take this lesson and make this my single most important goal when dealing with my customers. I intimately know what some of my customers are going through when they realize they need a Property Manager to manage one of their homes. For a lot of families, their Rental Property is a main source of income, it was what they depend on. It was what me and my family depended on all those years ago, and it under no circumstances be allowed to fail.
Property Managers should not only help, but they should realize that they are in the position to save the day.