Property management has various forms of conflict.
Property management has two general types of conflict, one being practices that can be in place to avoid conflict, and the conflict that comes with the job!
Conflict comes in so many different forms; however, it is generally between us/our agency and two main groups, our tenants (our customers) and property owners and investors (our clients).
With tenants, you are providing them with a property they need to call home. The most basic fundamental need and right of every human being are to have a sanctuary, a place where they can hide away and a place where they can feel safe for them and their families. So it makes sense that tempers can flare when their peace of mind is affected in some way with their rental property.
With property owners and investors, you are likely managing their greatest financial asset with a large mortgage usually to go with it! I have always said ‘when it comes to money, people are funny’ and certainly when dealing and managing their property asset, the unexpected can occur and tempers can flare and ‘agro’ flare-up accordingly.
Ten Power Keys to Help You Manage Conflict:
1. Tenants and Repairs – the greatest complaint tenants have about property managers is repairs not being conducted in a timely manner. I could write pages on this topic; however, the best way to deal with it is to examine the complaints about repairs you have had, work out what caused them and then go fix the issue so it doesn’t happen again! Was it landlords not doing their part? They need to be educated that this is an obligation. Is it landlords that need to be called and you cannot get them? Can you push more for a maintenance limit where you do not need their permission first? Identify the complaint and change the system to ensure you eliminate this complaint in future.
2. Landlords and Communication – the greatest complaint landlords have about their property manager is the lack of communication they receive. This one requires your attitude to be in tune with what your client requires, which is clear, transparent and timely communication. Don’t send an email when the problem is best fixed by telephone (if required). Ensure all your calls and emails are returned on time. However, another way to ensure you have a communicating attitude is to say to yourself ‘How would I feel if I owned this property, and I was kept in the dark about important issues?’ So for goodness sake, communicate!
3. Deal with Issues Immediately – any problems or potential conflict occurs when problems, complications and ‘stuff-ups’ are kept hidden and undercover. In property management, there is a simple formula that has exact results every time. Problem + Time = Conflict. However, Problem + Quickly Fix = Problem Solved and Conflict Lessened or Avoided. It has always been my experience that if a problem or mistake is fixed real quick, then the problem is resolved with little to no damage caused. Leave it to fester with time, expect to have problems and conflict!
4. Be Clear on Right Expectations Upfront – one of the most effective keys to avoiding conflict is to ensure all right expectations with both your landlords and tenants are given upfront. Educate landlords with common conflict areas like wear and tear, the rent arrears process and repairs be given clear expectations upfront. With tenants, also thoroughly educate them with your strict rent arrears policy, what you expect at routine inspections and the vacate inspection. Inducting them to a thoroughly prepared Property Owner’s Handbook for landlords and a Tenant Handbook with your tenants will do this nicely!
5. Use Conflict for Improvement – if conflict and mistakes occur don’t let this opportunity go to waste. As consultants we can go into a business and point out weaknesses for a nominal fee; however, your complaints will do the same job for free! Use complaints and mistakes to get leverage from the problem, to change your systems and processes to not let it happen again!
Be sure to check out the next five Power Keys in part two of this article.