Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Saying Goodbye to Your Property Manager

breakingup_militarybyowner.comWhen the whispering sweet nothings conversations on one too many date nights with your spouse have quickly deteriorated into a recounting of what your property manager has done wrong this month, then it’s time to consider a break up. No, not a break up with your spouse, silly! This is a break up with your property manager.

Many military families are reluctant to terminate their relationship with their property manager for a number of reasons, to include:

  • Termination fees for breach of contract.
  • Ending the relationship will require an awkward confrontation with the current property manager.
  • They can’t easily go in person to oversee the transition of the property to a new property manager.
  • It’s too much of a hassle to coordinate the transition.

Fortunately for you, Dear Military Landlord, we can address every single one of these concerns to help you quickly find a solution for your property manager woes, so that your dinner date conversations can return to whatever it is that you’d rather be discussing.

To begin with, if the property manager has breached her contract with you, then you may not have any termination fees to pay. Read your contract carefully. If your contract termination fee is just a few hundred dollars and requires only a 30- or 60-day notice, then consider just how urgently you need the property manager to cease all transactions with the property. If, however, you will need to pay management fees for the duration of the entire lease, then you’ll either have to consider how badly you want to be rid of the property manager or whether you have just cause to take her to court to help mitigate those losses.

Breaking up with a property manager doesn’t require a confrontation. Even if you did have to confront your property manager, the conversation doesn’t have to turn ugly. You simply need to focus on three things in the conversation:

  1. Staying calm.
  2. The outcome: Terminating the relationship.
  3. Avoiding blame: If you do wish to explain the cause of the termination of the contract or if the property manager inquires, you can ask questions instead of making blaming statements. For example, “I expected that maintenance requests would be addressed within 48 hours as per the contract. Why were the requests not addressed on [Insert your ready-to-cite dates here]?”

You don’t need to have the break-up conversation at all if you really don’t want to, though. Give your notification in writing, but since you aren’t delivering it in person you’ll need verification of receipt. You can send one copy via certified mail, and you can also send an email with a read receipt. You may want to consider copying the new property management company on the notification email, too.

Also, you don’t need to go in person to oversee the smooth transition of your property from one manager to the next. As most military families do not live near their rental properties, know that there is no actual need for the expense and time of traveling to it just for this administrative change. Instead, simply arrange for either the new property manager or a courier service to pick up the paperwork as well as the key to the property. Most landlords will want to eventually meet their property managers, but don’t delay your decision to switch managers simply because your hectic work schedule won’t permit you the time to travel to the house.

Finally, coordinating the transition from one property manager to another doesn’t require too much work on your part. The biggest step is making sure that you’ve found a good replacement for your current manager. When selecting one, make sure to read any available online reviews. You can often find a Facebook page of landlords for each city in which you can inquire to see if anyone has experience with your prospective property manager. You want to make sure that you’re making the best choice for your military family’s property.

Once you’ve selected a new property manager and submitted your notification to the old property manager, the only steps you need to take are:

  1. Ensure proper transfer of the tenant’s security deposit into a new escrow account. If the escrow account was held by you and not through your property manager’s account, then you can simply transfer the account authorizations by your bank to remove your previous property manager and permit signing access to your new one.
  2. Notify the current property manager that you will need a copy of any paperwork that pertains to the property. This paperwork could include lease documentation, warranty paperwork for appliances or a general home warranty service, and any financial information, such as statements of maintenance work and rents paid.

Breaking up with your property manager isn’t personal. Your rental property is both a business and an investment, and if your investment isn’t cared for in the way that best works for you, then it’s time to move on!

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