People are resistant to change regardless if they are from Hawaii or the mainland. Whether its based on past experience or fear of the unknown, tenants are always skeptical when a new property manager takes over an account. If not handled and transitioned correctly, this could result in a poor relationship between the tenant and manager.
Communication is the most important step during the transition process. The manager should call the tenant and introduce themselves. Explain to the tenant that the owner has hired them to manage the property for them and a brief outline of the service that will be offered to the tenant. A great approach would be to schedule an appointment to meet with the tenant at the property which gives the manager an opportunity to meet the tenant, establish trust, answer questions that the tenant may have, to see how they are taking care of the property, and to look for items that may need attention.
When making this call, its important to remember that the tenant may not react positively to this information, which is most likely because they have not yet had a chance to build a trusting relationship with the new property manager. Remain calm when this happens and understand where the tenant is coming from. Assure them that everything will be fine and that you are there to help them.
After speaking to the tenant, sending a follow up letter is important. This not only documents the conversation, but it also notifies the tenant in writing of the change so you have backup record in case you need it.
Challenges when Transitioning Self Managed Properties
Investors and property owners who were self managing often times seek out help from a professional management company when they are having difficulty managing the home themselves. This could be due to their workload, problematic tenant, etc. In most cases, there are problems that often need to be worked out from the get go. This could be maintenance items that the owner couldn't or didn't address, past due payments on taxes or other lien items, unpaid rent, or even a tenant residing in a property without a lease. Property managers need to be prepared to handle these types of situations calmly and diligently.
Challenges with Poor Management from Previous Property Manager
Finding and selecting a property manager is a very difficult task for owners and investors. Not only do they have to find someone who is trustworthy, but they often have to pay setup fees and fill out extensive contracts. Changing over from one property manager to another is time consuming and in some cases, expensive. In most cases, this is only done if there are problems with the previous property manager.
The most common problem is poor communication. In these instances, the property owner is probably not aware of what is going on with their property and it’s the new managers job to bring them up to speed. Managers should be prepared to discuss maintenance issues, past due payments, and problems with how the tenant is taking care of the property. Most likely the property owner is not aware of these things so it may come to them as a surprise. Remember that you are still building trust with the owner, so remain calm and provide them with documentation. This not only asserts the problem, but it also lets the owner know that you are thorough.
Patience is a great asset to a property manager when taking on an account with an existing tenant. You never truly know what you are up against. Keeping calm and developing a strategy to address the problems that come up are key to developing trust with both the tenant and investor.
October 31, 2013