Archive for the 'landlords' Category
Hello, let me try that again … HELLO!!! I’m back!!! It has been 10 months since I wrote last. I apologise. No excuses, maybe a few reasons, you know … incredibly busy, burnt out, only wanted to rant about negative things, my genius deserted me. (Check out this link for explanation on ‘genius’ … go on, do it. It is a talk on Ted Talks by Elizabeth Gilbert … Fascinating and fun) …
Anywho, I let it slide for a while. But I now have something I would like to share. One of my greatest joys here at work is listening to Fleur, Gina and Claire doing their ‘thing’ on the phone. I love how they are so transparent and go about setting expectations. Fleur was just accepting a new tenant for a property that has a lovely front lawn and a nice concrete driveway, but very little room for error on the turnaround … So Fleur talks about the lawn and the damage that can be done by cars on it (especially in winter). She explains to the tenant that this would be considered damage and they would need to remedy it (Fleur goes on to explain how) so it would be best to not allow guests to park on the lawn etc. This tenant has no illusions whatsoever about where cars can be parked at that house. Now whenever an inspection is done it is a simple matter of monitoring the situation. Brilliant.
Expectations prevent so many problems. Telling owners and tenants alike the complete picture in as concise a way as possible makes business clean and clear for all concerned. Unfortunately, sometimes, despite being fully informed, some people still choose poorly.
Claire was very clear with an owner who has procrastinated over some serious maintenance. She was very clear on what was needed and the cost involved. She was very clear on how it impacted on the tenant and what actions the tenant could take if the maintenance was not done in a timely manner. (This normally produces a fast resolution.) Nothin’, Nadda, zip and zilch! – So now, as the tenant indicates to us that she is indeed taking action to ensure the work is done, we have no issue or concerns in passing this information on to the owner. We take no joy in it either, but we know we have not dropped the ball. We (Claire) have fulfilled our duty of care beautifully.
And despite the fact that I want to say long and loud: “You pay us for a reason, LISTEN when we advise you …” I kind of think the message gets through anyway. Just sometimes it gets through the hard way.
Transparency. Expectations. Love’em.
October 08 2012 | landlords and Management and Tenants and Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
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 »
So I am feeling humble. And sheepish. Let’s not forget the sheepish. I am probably feeling more sheepish than humble … Though what sheep have to do with feeling embarrassed (definition of sheepish) I have NO idea … and this from a sheep farmers daughter. Yes yes, back to the big why I’m feeling sheepish.
As you know we have had a huge change here and we have been lucky enough to have Vanessa in here. (Vanessa being one of our business owners and Company Directors). Well I heard her talking to a sweet elderly tenant of ours the other day. This lady has the beginnings of dementia and I have had the pleasure of dealing with her before regarding a maintenance issue. An element on her stove needed replacing and I wanted her to tell me the brand of the oven so I could inform our sparky. (Yes for all you PM’s out there, I should have simply looked at a photo!)
Now in the phone conversation with her I was polite, patient and what I considered to be suitably professional. I got the result we all wanted and I hung up happy – and apparently oblivious!
During Ness’s conversation with her, she asked Ness if “that Diane” was still employed here. Ness, very proudly, said yes, yes she is. “Oh” came the reply … “that woman is so rude! She made me get up and go and look at my stove there and then”.
This for me was a gentle reminder, well, not really so gentle actually! That not everyone’s experience of me is what I would like it to be despite me delivering what I think at the time is professional service Some people experience me as strong, forceful, and sometimes what I think is obvious is in fact, far from it … And I can’t really control that. Which for a control freak produces some serious soul searching and some very indignant self talk!
So I took this on board and tried buttoning back the ‘professional’ speak to be more friendly, and had a tenant come back and say my standard wasn’t high enough!!! Ahhhhh!!!!
So the point, I guess, is that I continue to work on my self awareness everyday. I don’t always get it right, but I do care, and I do shift my behaviour to always try to be better. Allens has an underlying motto, an ethos, of ‘Better Than Before’. If I take that motto, and one from the delightful movie The Robinsons ‘Keep Moving Forward’, then I may, just may, stay sane.
September 22 2011 | Customer Service and landlords and Management and Relationships and Uncategorized | No Comments »
So here I am being a ‘Property Manager’ … I’m feeling a bit “set-up” about having to raise the bar and write a ‘blog’ … Ahh well, having to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and all that … So here goes …
Wow, where do you property managers find the time?! Talk about 55 balls in the air at one time - seriously! My brain had to come up with a ‘category-memory-mode’ to keep up with all the individual jobs, properties, landlords and tenants on the go … and notice how everyone sends you an email, or phones you, launching straight into the request … my hand is frantically scribbling down the point of the call, while my brain is whipping into it’s ‘category-memory-mode’ retrieving essential data: Who is this? From where? Are they returning my call? Am I supposed to know something about this? – You property managers seriously get the ‘high five’ from me!
I have met some amazing tenants, landlords and tradesman over the past few weeks – people really are such fun – the physiology of it is just so interesting - the tenants who phone you the day they miss rent (love them) and then the other end of the scale, the ones who just will not answer your calls (got that one sorted – surprise visit in the afternoon, just nowhere to run!). No matter what walk of life, people are people, and what a great industry to sample such a cross section.
So these past few weeks … I feel like I have dealt with everything: Absconded tenants, blocked toilets, lovely little old ladies who have dementia and want to talk for an hour, Court, and … less than clean tenants. Talk about a steep learning curve! Getting just the right level of “Yes, I want to help, but no I can’t spend all day on you” is quite a juggle. Thank goodness so far everyone is just soooo nice. (I can just hear Di sitting on my shoulder giggling “you think that’s everything? Wait till next week…”).
I have to say our contractors are brilliant. They rush up to our emergencies at a drop of a hat, are reliable and do a fabulous job – We couldn’t do it without them … even if they are a little bit too cheeky!
Diane – you are seriously talented at this Management role – I have been so proud of you. Listening first hand, how you deal with the inevitable ‘disgruntled issues-in-the-closet’ that get aired when there is a change of property manager. Absolutely, beautifully handled – with every case. Your added stress of two ‘newbies’ in the department – asking questions left right and centre, training, teaching, coaching, keeping an ear out saving us from making mistakes we don’t even know we are making! – pure professionalism. You deserve a sunny trip to a deserted island to get your sanity back … Oops sorry, can we make it a weekend to Auckland so you can be back by Monday?
A great team in here – Claire, Hayley and Diane – it has been an absolute pleasure to be part of it.
Just quietly loving it … I think … Well today anyway.
Off to make some calls… why are they not sending back their lease renewals? Hmmmm …
Company Director and currently an ”Allens Property Manager”
August 24 2011 | Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management and Relationships and Tenants and Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
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 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 »
Now every week, I sit here and try to express to you all how passionate both Allens and the individual property managers here at Allens Property Management are. I hope in some small way you are getting a sense of what we are creating here and what our individual standards are. I do this each week because I believe it is the most important part of property management. If one is not passionate about property management, it falls in to the “it’s just a job” category. And to be honest, a property manager with that attitude is never going to deliver brilliant results. They will never fulfil the expectations of the company, the landlords or the tenants that work with them. And they will be miserable while they fail.
And to be brutally honest, you have to be passionate to survive the waves of dramas that periodically roll in. The passion is like a surfboard, if you will. It is the tool that holds you above the dramas (I would really love to phrase that differently… C#@P… But it doesn’t fit my metaphor!). The “surfboard” allows you to negotiate the waves as they crash around you. It is quite simply what holds your head above water and guides you to shore. (Oh my, aren’t I poetic today?)
Sometimes, when you can feel the swell of dramas rising beneath you, and your sixth sense says: “watch out”, you can feel a quick moment of “Oh S%#T!” as your mind scurries frantically, checking your actions, making sure all your ducks were lined up just in case this happened. But thankfully, that is just your intuition warning you of danger and trying to protect you. As you mentally check and prepare for the potential storm surge, you can relax a little because your consistent passion has future proofed you, the company and your investor.
So where am I heading with this? Well, it’s like this. One of the really cool things about Property Management is the acknowledgement you get for a job well done. The gift baskets, flowers and wine are absolutely wonderful and are very gratefully received. The chocolate overload delivered to Tracy one day was very impressive! And then I received a phone call last week from one of our investors that I think tops the lot for a genuine display of praise and gratitude…
He is one of our bigger investors. He is a long term client with a large portfolio that he steadily adds to. He is a wonderful landlord, very easy to deal with and he understands the business of balancing money with people and their actions. He also understands that our requests for new curtains, carpet and paint from time to time are to protect the marketable value of his portfolio. In general we don’t negotiate our fee. We believe we are worth what we charge and the steady growth of our roll supports that belief. We did however negotiate a discount for this man around eight months ago. It was a gift from us for his ongoing loyalty.
So imagine my surprise when he calls me in my role as manager last week and informs me that he would like to gift back to us the discount we offered. He said that he believed we were more than worth it and he is fully aware of all we do for a small slice of his rental income. He said he considered Allens a great investment and that he had always been happy with the service Allens provided. He added Allens are always “on top of it” and are very quick to sort any problems. Therefore, he would be happy to pay full rates and asked that we please alter our system to reflect this.
Wow! Isn’t that outstanding? So you see, I know our passion for property management is evident. And when we are rewarded with that type of attitude, it helps to feed and grow the underlying passion felt by all.
So I sit here and type this with pride and joy inside. We rock. And it is not just me that thinks so.
Diane Wright Manager,
Allens Home Rentals
March 02 2011 | Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management | 1 Comment »
Well I know I’m a couple of weeks behind the times but Happy New Year!!!
2011 Feels like a great year. I don’t know why but I forever struggled with writing “2010″. I always seemed to write “2009″. But 2011!!! Wow! That just rolls off my pen tip. I have great expectations for 2011.
It’s certainly off to a great start. The other night I went to the opening of a photography display. It was titled Portraits of Strength by New Zealand photographer Damien Nikora. In a stunning display of love, a very talented young man has managed to build an incredible foundation of trust with 11 women, all of whom have suffered with breast cancer. I am genuinely moved by the talent and humanity in this man. BS would have got him no where. He must have been gentle, authentic, compassionate and still. He must have become a safe place for these ladies to fall into. Quite a feat I believe.
Around the walls were 11 large photos of these beautiful women from the waist up, wearing nothing but their dignity. You could see the scars on their bodies and their emotional scars reflected in their eyes. Funny how the damage to flesh and skin did not hold my attention anywhere near the way their eyes did. Gazing up into their eyes I became very present to their pain, fear, anger. I also saw defiance, hope, joy and acceptance. It was a humbling exhibition.
Isn’t it funny. If people will just allow you to look, to honestly slow down enough to look into their eyes, and yes, even in a photo, you can get a sense of who they really are in that moment.
I guess this stood out for me last night because before I had left work I spent some time with a potential tenant who not only wouldn’t meet my eyes, but he wouldn’t slow his speaking or allow me the opportunity to jump on in to the supposed two-way conversation “we” were having. And I thought at the time, “Dude! I can see who you are trying to convince both yourself and me that you are, but gosh, slow down, breathe, look at me, let me see you!” – I know I’m burbling now, but hey, what ya gonna do?
Sometimes we have people looking to rent through us and they won’t even take their sunglasses off while inside. I wonder if they are aware of the message it sends. I wonder if they care. I wonder what makes them want to hide themselves so completely.
What has this do to with property management? Well, honestly, not a lot.
Portraits of Strength
The exhibition is a collection of emotive portraits that aims to support and inspire women, their partners, families and friends living with breast cancer.
Portraits of Strength is a photographic exhibition and website that captures the beauty and honesty of eleven courageous women battling breast cancer. Each photograph will announce its own message to the viewer giving these women a voice to raise awareness and inspire action. ACTION is the key and reason for the exhibition.
The portraits are topless, uncovering a portion of each woman’s individual journey with breast cancer. One woman stated, “I am not an exhibitionist by nature but breast cancer is regrettably so common now, I think it’s important to cross that last frontier”.
As a photographer my goal was to photograph these women with sensitivity and earn a trust that allowed feelings of fear and vulnerability to be exchanged for empowerment and confidence.
This website is an integral part of the project. It will give everyone who attends the exhibition or the web site an opportunity to connect with each woman. Viewers can give feedback on what the exhibition impressed upon them. Please leave words of love, support and inspiration.
Find out more about the project by clicking here:
Find out more about the exhibition currently on in Whangarei by following this link:
Information sourced from Portraits of Strength website www.portraitsofstrength.com
January 26 2011 | landlords | 4 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 »