Property managers in Hawaii have a tough job. They never know what to expect each day when they wake up in the morning. There are constantly new things coming up all the time that they haven’t dealt with before. Not to mention complaints from tenants, property owners, vendors, neighbors, etc. The list goes on and on.
The last thing a property manager needs if for things to get more complicated, which is usually what happens when the tenant has the owner’s phone number.
Loss of control
The main reason an investor hires a property manager is so they do not have to handle the day-to-day aspects of being a landlord and dealing with the tenant. Once the tenant gets a hold of the owner’s phone number, its inevitable that they will call the owner directly. It may not be today or tomorrow, but there will be a time when the tenant calls and either you are away from your desk or you have to decline their request. When this happens, the tenant will then call the owner.
Some investors do not mind working with the tenant, but most generally prefer not to because it places added pressure on them. Especially if the owner had declined a request made by the tenant and now the tenant is asking them why.
Have you ever had a client call you upset saying that the tenant called them at 3 am because their refrigerator stopped working? How about the owner negotiating a deal with the tenant and not telling you about it?
Its very common to lose control over a home once a tenant and owner start to communicate directly. This ultimately leads to situations where you are no longer in control or you are not made aware of certain arrangements.
Here are some examples of the complications that could come up:
- Owner was notified of mold or a water leak but forgets to follow up on it correctly and you get a call from the tenant a week or so later upset claiming that your negligent
- The owner authorizes the tenant to complete a repair on their own then deduct the cost from the rent but they forget to tell you
- A tenant requests the owner’s permission to add a pet which they approve but they do not inform you
- The tenant loses their job, has a job transfer, or something along those lines and the owner agrees to let them move out early and one day the tenant shows up at your office with the keys
- The tenant complains to the owner about you and how bad your company is; they could be legitimate concerns or simply because they do not like working with property managers
Those are just some general things that property managers may have to deal with when the tenant and owner are communicating directly. While some are worse than others, the loss of control makes an already challenging job more difficult.
In addition when the property manager is not kept in the loop, it can also increase their liability. The example listed about discussing a situation where a property owner was supposed to address a concern with mold in the property but failed to follow up is a great demonstration of this. While the property manager was just made aware of the circumstance, they now have to work that much harder and that much faster to get the problem resolved quickly. The tenant is already on edge and the landlord has already put you at risk of negligence. Granted, you could argue that you were not made aware of the circumstance in court because neither the tenant or owner contact you, but the fact that you had to go to court over this is bad enough.
The simple solution to this problem is to create a policy where you do not share contact information between tenants and property owners. If an owner requests it, just share with them different examples of how this can inconvenience the owner and how it makes your job more difficult. Alternatively, if a tenant is asking for the owner’s information, just inform the tenant that you were hired by the owner to work with the tenant on behalf of the owner but that you are willing to pass along a message for them. Rarely do you encounter a lot of resistance to this. In the end, if the owner visits the property and they really want the tenant’s contact information, there isn’t much you can do. If it starts to become a problem, you can always terminate management if the owner becomes unreasonable or have the tenant move out if they are difficult to work with.
Avoiding difficult circumstances is important and by implementing a policy not to share contact information is a great way to prevent problems later on.
September 5, 2013