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    How to Know You Need a New Property Manager

     Has your property manager ever taken a commission without actually collecting any rent? Mine did.

    Well, that’s not 100% true; she actually only sent a statement showing that she had taken her fee, but since she hadn’t collected any rent, there wasn’t any money for her to take 10% from in the first place. When I called for clarification, she realized the tenant hadn’t remitted his rent for the month, and bless her heart, she thanked me for noticing. This particular property manager didn’t stay with her company for much longer; I noticed on LinkedIn a little while back that she’d found another calling, which was probably for the best.

    More often than not, the biggest problems between property managers and landlords revolve around their communication. But what if your issue with your property manager isn’t just a headache? If your property manager breaches his contract through negligence, either willful or not, then it’s time to move on. Let’s look at a couple of examples of negligent property management so that you have a point of comparison.

    Negligent Property Management

    Not remitting rent or not finding tenants for your vacant property or marketing your rental property are easy signs of negligence, but let’s look at two less obvious signs. 

    1) You never receive a repair bill.

    This may sound a little counterintuitive, after all, no one actually wants to receive a repair bill. With homeownership, however, comes repairs. Based on discussions with many military family landlords over the past few years as well as my own experience, a working guesstimate for annual maintenance and repairs for most military families is around 10 percent. If you aren’t receiving any bills for annual maintenance, such as heating system inspections, pest inspections, water supply checkup (for homes with wells), chimney sweep, and so forth, then there’s a good chance the inspections aren’t taking place. When you let inspections slide for too long, a small inspection and maintenance bill can quickly escalate into a huge repair bill.

    2) Your property manager doesn’t have relationships with any contractors in the area.

    If you have a maintenance issue or a need for a repair, you likely expect your property manager to at least suggest a contractor. An ideal property manager will also solicit bids for repairs on your behalf. Many property management companies, including small ones, have a handyman on staff to manage small repairs. When you need a plumber, an electrician, or another licensed tradesman, though, most military families appreciate a referral, particularly when they’re dealing with this issue from several states away. If your property manager can’t suggest anyone, that is an indication that they haven't worked to establish good relationships in their field. What does that mean for their relationship with your tenants?  

    (On that note, if you are managing your property yourself, check out MilitaryByOwner’s Business Directory to find listings of local businesses, including repairmen, with referrals from other military families.)

    If you do find yourself in a negligent property manager situation, fear not, for tips on how to break up with your property manager are at hand. In our less-than-loving themed Valentine’s post, Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Saying Goodbye to Your Property Manager, you can read the four main reasons why military families in particular struggle with ending a property management relationship.

    The good news is that there are easy ways around each of these reasons, and once you’ve found a new property manager, you can follow our simple, no-hassle steps to ensure the safe delivery of your rental investment to its new manager. There are good property managers out there, but sometimes you’ve just got to kiss a few frogs to find your property management prince (or princess!) charming!

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    Karina Gafford


    Karina Gafford

    Originally from Ireland, Karina has been a proud U.S. citizen since 2010. She and her husband have lived together in Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas. Karina is a Realtor with Keller Williams City View in San Antonio, a founder of Tutors By Base, and an active member in her military spouse community. She has served on many military spouse committees, and is currently the co-chapter leader of the MilSpo Project in San Antonio, a non-profit that supports military spouse business owners and entrepreneurs.

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