Archive for the 'conflict / resolution' Category
Honestly! I live in a home and all I do with the curtains is open and shut them! Where is the need to pull them down, swap them round, loose them, replace them, steal them, and basically give property managers all manner of grief??!!!
Don’t they know that investors do not like being told that the brown Aztec curtains that have lived there quite happily for 10 years are now orange? Or missing … Ok, so you might think it is obvious why the investor does not like being told that, but bare with me. The plot thickens here …
The real issue with missing curtains is that if they are over seven or eight years old they have absolutely no value in the eyes of the adjudicator. None. Zip. Nadda. Ain’t worth a red razoo.
I have just been to Tribunal and part of the claim was $800 odd to replace the missing curtains. How old were the curtains? I am asked. Well at least five years I answer truthfully. Ok, comes the reply. Then they only had 1 or 2 years of life left in them. The value of the replacement curtains is taken and divided by the expected life of the old curtains and allocated an amount per year. Less what they had ‘lived‘ left in this case approx $100 that the owner was awarded. Hmmmm …
My protests of “But the owner may not of chosen to replace them for another 10 years!” Fell on polite, but deaf ears. Nor was my cry of, “He had no choice but to replace them because of the tenants actions”, heard.
I was however enlightened on the subject of ‘Betterment’. (I am grateful for the lesson.) It is not upon the tenant to leave the property ‘Better’ than when they moved in. They aren’t really even expected to leave the property in the same condition. Oh don’t get me wrong. Damage will always be pursued through the tribunal system. But basic wear and tear, basic lived in stuff is absolutely acceptable. But that isn’t what I am talking about here.
Really, *sigh* … what I am whining about, and procrastinating over, is the fact that I have to make another one of those phone calls. And I don’t really don’t want to!
October 12 2011 | conflict / resolution and Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Tenants | No Comments »
One thing that sparks me up instantly is an inadvertently dropped “truth”. Words unconsciously uttered that suddenly shift how I see myself and my world. Exciting stuff for me!
So remember I told you about the landlord who helped shape me as a property manager? The man who was, and is again now, my partner in “The Dance of Property Management”? Well he has been back in the country and we were talking over coffee. The fact that he was back a mere three months after leaving indicates to the savvy that something out of the ordinary had transpired. Well done those of you who joined those dots …
Okay, okay! I’ll share his wise utterings. (I still smile when I remember the look on his face as I suddenly got lost in the concept of what he said and had to grab my pen to write it down … priceless. Here it is:
Integrity is a spectrum. We choose where we place ourselves in that spectrum.
I think I have made it abundantly clear how important integrity is to me both personally and professionally, so you can imagine how this casually uttered pearl of wisdom sparked around my brain, It was like a tumble lock slowly shifting, changing and clanking in to the correct position to open.
Now I know I may sound overly dramatic about the whole issue of integrity, but here is why.
A ball had been dropped by Allens around one of his properties. And as manager of the department he was looking to me to see what Allens thought about this. There were no demands, no righteous indignation, no thumping of a fist on the desk. Merely a polite and gentle, “Well, this is how I see it, what about you?” and a pause, then a further “See what you can do”
So I take the trip down the rabbit warren that is our office to Vanessa’s desk (Director of the company in charge of the rental department) and I go into bat for the owner. And this is where another dance takes place. Have you ever been so blessed to have a boss that invites you to tell them why they might be wrong? One who says, well this is what I think and this is my decision based on that, but keep talking … I want you to make me change my mind. A boss who is completely open to whatever you throw at them and is actually not just open but genuinely enjoys the process of working through stuff?? You may be getting a glimpse here of why I am a loyal Allens gal through and through.
Anywho – Ness and I to-ed and fro-ed, yes but, no but, but what about and have you thought about … for two days. And at the end of the two days we reached a result that Allens could live with and that the landlord can live with. But more importantly to me I think, is we reached a result I can live with.
The reason is because the decision aligned with where I place myself on my integrity spectrum, and where I believe Allens stands in that spectrum. I have a very wise boss because every time she gives me an opportunity to professionally stand where I choose to stand personally, she creates a deeper respect within me for her, the company, myself and the process.
It is deeply satisfying to know and experience that I will never be asked to represent myself or this company in any other light than one that reflects my personal placement on my integrity spectrum.
And I’ll share a final secret. It truly works. It flows. It is like a hot knife through butter.
*Sigh* … and a very contented one at that!
July 25 2011 | conflict / resolution and Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management and Relationships and Uncategorized | No Comments »
I’m feeling kinda speechless.
I am very rarely, as you may have guessed, truly speechless, but I am a little today. Also a little amused and a little bemused.
Eight months ago I took on a property with sitting tenants as the owner had decided to join the great migration to Australia. Rent is paid consistently, and my only inspection so far produced no real complaints. It was tidy, it was clean. And it smelt of incense. And the posters on the walls just deepened my suspicions. Now I can’t legally go nosing through their belongings, and I wouldn’t do that anyway. But I looked everywhere I legally could for evidence of drug use. I couldn’t find a damning thing…
The tenancy is in the girl’s name. And today she walks in to the office with the boyfriend who has been living with her since the start of the tenancy and asks to have him added to the tenancy agreement. Well, ok, the owners had instructed me to do this so we start to go down that road. I inform her of all the consequences of this action, including that she is in effect gifting half the bond to him. ”No worries” she says. “It’s all good” she says.
“So, I need to come up with another bond if I move out” she asks …
“Move?” I say … Move? Ahhh … (you may have noticed a blinding light over Whangarei at about 1.09pm today… It was the lightbulbs going off over my head.)
“Ahh” I say … “so let me guess” I say, “you have split up and you are moving out and leaving him behind to take over the tenancy?”
“Yes” she smiles brightly at me. Oh no you don’t! I smile brightly back at her. And while we are talking about this stuff, “young peoples”, I say, “… I want to let you know, that while there is no formal complaint in place, I am well aware that there are parties being held, loud and long parties” … and as they sheepishly lower their eyes I deliver my master stroke … “And,” I say, “… there is dope in the house.” Their eyes jump up and fleetingly meet mine, before dropping again as the blood rises in their cheeks. At least they had the grace to look embarrassed I guess!
“It’s only when the lads turn up on the weekends” she says … And, I say, “why would I let you move out and leave a young man of 18 there whose weekend habits are guaranteed to rip up my peace and quiet, not to mention that of the neighbours?”
So we do the whole terrorise the teenagers talk, the accountability, theirs and mine, legal obligations, theirs and mine, and the far reaching consequences of a bad tenancy on their renting future … And they leave with a flea in their ear, a notice to vacate form and an application form for the lad and his two 18 year old mates … I need paper to light my fire with.
June 17 2011 | conflict / resolution and Customer Service and Management and Relationships and Society and Tenants and Uncategorized | 4 Comments »
I spent some time with a particular landlord today. He is based permanently off shore and comes home once every three years to go through his properties and to do any renovations that may be needed. This man holds an honored place in my work heart. I started in property management five years ago and I inherited his portfolio. I had absolutely no experience, but I was absolutely passionate. He has a large portfolio with the company and has many years experience, both as an investor and as a landlord who has dealt with many property management firms. He is calm, patient, reasonable and quite possibly the most sensible man I know!
Personally, and in retrospect, I realize I owe this man some kind of public kudos. So, here it is. This man was professionally gentle, incredibly patient, absolutely clear and concise. He explained, knowing that I couldn’t possibly know it to a degree that was of any use despite reading file upon file, the history of his tenants and properties. He explained his expectations. He laid down his “no go” zones. He encouraged me, he graciously accepted my clumsy apologies, he supported my decisions and offered alternative suggestions and he generously acknowledged my growing strengths. Consistently. For an incredibly green, but entirely enthusiastic brand new property manager he wore a halo and wings. He helped to shape me.
My manager of the time, Rik, also helped me by believing in me. Every time I took a monkey and threw it at his desk hoping it would bounce and latch onto his back, he would smile, block, parry, and I would walk away with my monkey chortling in my ear. Bless him.
I learnt, at a soul-deep level, ownership of what is mine. Protection against what is not mine. The ability to educate those to whom it truly belonged, and the skill to negotiate my way between company, investor, tenant and the law. As I see it: Property Management 101: Communication, Education and Negotiation.
I am eternally grateful, to this landlord, to Rik, and to Allens. And I hope that maybe some investor out there is reading this, and really gets, that the relationship with their property manager is not simply of a service expected and of a service being provided. (That would provide such a substandard service.) It is a relationship for both to be all they can be, to get the best result possible. It needs to be symbiotic.
Let’s face it. There is a high degree of ownership and real personal responsibility for all involved. It is a partnership. It is a dance. It totally works best, when the dance is harmonious, rhythmic and consistent… And I am humbly grateful to have been blessed by such a dance.
May 20 2011 | conflict / resolution and Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management and Relationships and Uncategorized | No Comments »
Lately we seem to be butting heads a little with some tenants regarding the condition of a property after they have vacated.
The Residential Tenancies Act of 1986 Section 40 (e) (iii) states: the tenant shall – on the termination of the tenancy – leave the premises in a reasonably clean and reasonably tidy condition, and remove or arrange for the removal from the premises of all rubbish.
Now I will admit, with a degree of exasperation, that “reasonably clean” and “reasonably tidy” are subjective terms.
The dictionary definition of reasonable is: sensible, not making unfair demands, logical.
So, is it sensible to leave black finger marks on light switches? Is it fair that if you spill food and beverages down the front of cupboards that you leave the mess there for someone else to clean up?
Is it logical that rubbish is removed from the house but left in the garage, behind the garage or under the house? And what about skirting boards…..is it “reasonably clean” when you don’t even try to remove the dust build up? … Don’t start me on the ovens!
But all of those examples are quite clear and we have no problem saying “fix or pay”. It is the ones where the tenant has wiped benches down, but used a dirty cloth to do so leaving smear marks everywhere. I have had an adjudicator tell me that the smear marks may be dirty to me, however it did prove that the tenant had made a “reasonable” attempt at cleaning. And she is right. The tenant had very conscientiously cleaned almost every surface of the house. Her intention was to do the right thing. She just didn’t think to wash her cloth from time to time! … Frustrating!
Now if you have a great relationship with the tenant you can gently suggest that a re-wipe would be beneficial. However, handled roughly or any previous history of contention is likely to leave you with a “Nah huh! Been there, done that, you don’t like it, then you do it” kind of response.
So where is this leading? Other than me letting off some steam? Well we tell our landlords, and I sincerely believe this, that is a very good idea to factor into their budget allowance to pay for a commercial clean every 3 or 4 tenancies. If you simply leave the quality of the clean to the tenant it will gradually, over time, go down hill. That is logical. It is much easier to set a high standard of cleanliness, if it is sparkling clean when they went in. The same adjudicator said to me, renting properties is a business. Business comes with expenses. Expenses that are the business owners. Her judgement scale? Say the best would be a 10 and the worst a 0, then in the adjudicator’s eyes she tries to settle on a 7.
Property managers hold tenants responsible as much as possible, and it totally rocks when owners say ok, lets get this back to the standard we want. Then the property is rented quicker and attracts a great sort of tenant and it is easier at the end to say well, we can PROVE the quality of clean when you went in, not just with photos and reports, but because this home is consistently kept to a great standard by landlords that care. And we have the invoice history to prove it. The adjudicators love it. And we say ditto!
So, to all the Property Managers out there I ask you this: ”How you deal with this common occurrence – where do you draw the line?”
March 31 2011 | conflict / resolution and Investors and landlords and Relationships and Tenants | 5 Comments »
Will someone please tell me why lovely, sweet young women allow bullies into their lives and almost as bad, into their homes? It never ceases to astound me, and not in a good way, how young women attract, or are attracted to males that insist on hurting them, damaging the property … and spending all the rent money! (Not men, a real man doesn’t act this way! – “Man: an adult male human being with qualities associated with the male, such as courage, honour, integrity”)
I wish there was a class in every high school were young women were taught to believe, that despite their upbringing, despite their environment, despite anything a young male may tell them to the contrary, that they are of immense value, value that is theirs intrinsically. It is theirs purely by the act of breathing. That their mere existence proves worth, value, and significance. That there is no-one else like them in the world. And that without their particular brand of special, the world would be a sadder place.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and for all these young women to know deep down inside that no male is worth the grief that costs them their self esteem, their hope and their dignity. And no male, and indeed no person, is worth losing your home and losing your potential to rent over.
And I wish I could wave that magic wand and give them all courage. Courage to say: “No I did not break these three doors!” … “I did not throw myself against the glass and shatter it everywhere cutting myself in the bargain” … “That person lurking behind me in the shadows where he thinks you can’t see him did it … AND I WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” – I truly do. *Sigh*
March 25 2011 | conflict / resolution and Relationships and Society | 2 Comments »
Sigh. For me, the real magic in property management is in problem/conflict resolution. I love hearing someone go from tense and demanding to calm and appreciative. There’s gold there.
Another powerful time in property management is when you have to have one of those talks. Now don’t get me wrong, this part is not fun, it is not magic, but it has the potential to change a person’s life. It is possibility in its rawest form. And when it is successful, it also leaves one with the feeling of a job well done. And we have had some successes.
To explain … I have just had a mother of some of our tenants in. The tenants are three young men in their very early 20’s and they are what my mum used to call “nice young men” thereby signifying “a character worthy of respect”. They don’t party, they take care of the property, relatively well, they are flexible round inspections and contractors and they are easy to talk to. Their one flaw is they are ridiculously unreliable around paying their rent on time. We always do get the money, but man do we have to work for it. Their mum moved in a few months ago and we looked forward to seeing the payments come in with some regularity, as promised … No such luck! … Our investor finally had enough and approved our suggestion to move these tenants on to find someone who paid on time every time.
The sad thing here is that when I originally signed this family up, they already had a history of arrears with another company in town. But this time they had the support of their mum and after discussions with the owner, it had been decided to give them a chance. It was a short term contract and the expectations were laid on the line. This is your one chance, blow it and you won’t get another, not with us, or anywhere else in town. We are honest with our references, so get it right. The power is in your hands … use it wisely oh young ones! Oh, we laid it on thick! And all was well for six months or so… then they started to slip, and slip some more … Long story short … 90 days notice was issued. They now have three weeks till expected vacate date and they are now in a place of desperation.
Mum comes in to see me. Can we give them another home? She’ll put the contract in her name, they won’t get in arrears she faithfully promises. She has been and is working full time, it’s the kids that screwed up, not her, she won’t let me down she promises … eyes full of tears.
So the “talk” starts spilling out. I get how desperate she is. She totally has my empathy, however she and the boys have backed us into a corner. We have tried repeatedly to get some regularity in place but to no avail. Our duty of care is to the landlord, to choose a tenant that will pay the rent on time, and please understand the difficulty she is trying to put us in. If we give her another chance and she screws up again then we will have totally let down our landlord and that would be our fault. And history dictates that it is likely to happen again. The situation she is now in is a direct result of her actions. And in truth, we are very reluctant to help her. If she were in our shoes, what would SHE do? And if we managed a property for her here in Whangarei, and we had tenants like her, what would her instructions to us as property managers be?
She would need to play the game by our rules. I don’t want them to be homeless. But I do want them to wake up and take personal responsibility for keeping a roof over their heads! The choice is theirs, and only theirs.
She and her lads are currently, if they so desire, in a position to learn a lesson that could set them up for the rest of their lives. If you make a commitment, stick to it. The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. There are consequences for your actions. Learn from your mistakes …and pay your rent on time, every time!
I’m willing to bet that if she meets our criteria, and learns her lessons, she will be in a place of a personal internal commitment to never miss her rent again. Whether it is with Allens or not. Well at least that’s what I hope for. The choice is hers.
But with this one, I’m not holding my breath.
December 07 2010 | conflict / resolution and landlords and Tenants | No Comments »