Archive for the 'Tenants' 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 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 »
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 »
Do you ever have that feeling that you may as well not take part in the conversation you are having?
Do you ever find yourself repeating yourself, ad nauseam, to absolutely no avail?
Do you find it as frustrating as I did in the following scenario?
It went like this.
Good morning, you are speaking with Diane.
Hi Diane, remember me? I am Blah Blah, from “Memory Lane Street”?
Oh yes, I say, (trembling with the memory,) How are you?
I want to look at the unit you have advertised up in “I Don’t Think So Lane”. When can I do that?
That is a nice little unit Blah. I remember when you were in Memory Lane you smoked, but were thinking about giving up. How’s that going? (I close my eyes as the memories come flooding back to me, and not just about smoking!)
Yes that is a life long battle for me I’m afraid. But I don’t smoke now.
Not at all? Now even when you are having a drink? Because I know when I gave up, that was when it was hardest for me.
Well I do occasionally smoke, but always outside.
Hmmn, I know how hard it can be, however this particular owner is adamant. The next tenant must be a non smoker. Totally. So I’m afraid this property will not be suitable for you.
I always smoke out on the street, well away from the house. (Yeah right!)
I’m sorry Blah Blah. The owner will not negotiate on this point. And he is allowed to discriminate on smoking.
Is the property partly furnished?
No it is not.
I would like to view it please. When can we do that?
I’m afraid I would be wasting your time showing you through as I know the owner will not consider even a part time smoker.
Does it have a bed?
No. It does not have a bed.
Can I meet you there shortly?
No, I’m sorry. This property is not available to a smoker.
Oh. Ok. I’ll keep looking then shall I?
Yes, I think that would be a great idea.
Ok, thanks for your help.
You are welcome. All the best.
Without a word of a lie….7 minutes later…..
Good morning, you are speaking with Diane.
Hi, it’s Blah Blah again. I’ve decided I really do want to take that unit in “I Don’t Think So Lane”. Can we make a time to view it today?
May 02 2011 | Relationships and Tenants and Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
The Effects of Negativity… on Tenancies and Life.
I just received a very sad text from someone I know who is in a place of despair. Her job is coming to an end and she has no idea what to do from here. And the doubt and worry is almost crippling her.
And yesterday we dealt with a woman who looks after her handicapped brother and she has a teenage daughter as well. She was looking for a two bedroom home for them as that is all she believes they can afford. Just looking at her you can see how beaten down by life and the uncertainty of her situation she is.
Please understand, I am not saying things are not hard out there. They are. Absolutely. But I will tell you this for free, and please shout it from any roof top you choose to: You can’t let SATAN win!
By the way, before you click off my blog… let me explain “SATAN”.
S.A.T.A.N. : Something, Any Thing Appearing Negative. (Compliments of Neale Donald Walsch.)
I see this time and time again with tenants, and people I know and love. Negativity is like a tornado. If you let the sucker touch down in your mind, then it sucks up all you’ve built and spits it out broken, leaving you useless and with no hope.
With tenants, they can get into a bind with money and instead of owning it, facing it, making a plan and sticking to it, they somehow think burying their heads in the sand will make it all go away. Eventually, despite us bending over backwards to say, “listen, it’s ok, just pay your rent with some extra and you will catch up, it will get better…” - but no. They end up in Tenancy Tribunal with a black stain against their name. I want to shake them and say don’t you know how important your “name” is??! How absolutely critical it is that you play by the rules? Because if you don’t, the consequences are severe! And you will have noone to blame but yourself! And I’m not just talking about tenancy rules here. This is true of life! For Goodness sake… !
However, I digress… SATAN. Yes. Feeling ripped up about things leaves you feeling ripped up about things! That’s all folks. And what changes then? A big ol’fat nothin’!
At the risk of alienating several hundred people (according to my stats anyway… Thank you all) let me say that wallowing in self pity is indulgent and counter productive. Sure, if things crash around you, allocate yourself a day, or spoil yourself, take a day and a half. Sulk, indulge in a hearty feast of self pity. THEN GET TO WORK!
The first thing to do is remember all the crap you have been through before. – You survived didn’t you? And if you are really honest with yourself, there will be something good that has come out of it all. You can only join the dots of your life in retrospect. Look back. Ahhh… if that hadn’t happened then that wouldn’t have happened, and then….you get my drift I’m sure.
So you know you will get through this, things will look better and you will have achieved growth! One of the six basic human needs by the way… But you don’t get growth without change! And that is all that happens. Things change. If you can get that and accept it, then you are well on the way to mastering yourself. I can see SATAN fleeing for the door already.
If you are truly brave, you might even allow yourself to get excited about the change, because change and uncertainty allow all sorts of things to show up. Real possibilities! Opportunities!!! That you will not see if your head is down with your tail between your legs!
You see, just because something appears negative, doesn’t mean it is or that you have to accept it as such.
If you learn to control your mind, then you control your destiny. Not easy, but like any muscle, you just need to consistently flex it for it to grow strong.
*Sigh*… back to my real job now.
April 21 2011 | Management and Relationships and Society and Tenants and Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Gosh I met the most delightful lady today.
I knew when I made the appointment to show a two bedroom unit to this lady today that it would not suit her. But I still go through the motions as I really can’t make that call for her. And who knows, I just might be surprised! She has a 14 year old son and the unit is situated in what could be mistaken for a retirement settlement.
She walked in and said “well I love it, and I know I would never go short of jam and baking here, but I wouldn’t feel like I could have a wine on the deck here. It wouldn’t be respectful to the neighbours.” How honest is that! We’ll find something for her, she isn’t in a hurry. All this is by the by … The real buzz I got from her was her telling me how she got it into her head last year to travel to Gallipoli for Anzac day. She isn’t a frequent traveller, and had been to Aussie only three times to visit people, so she had never done anything like this before. Hubby, she said, want to come? Nope! Kids, she said, want to come? Nope. So she booked a single ticket.
She had arranged to meet a friend at Istanbul. However when she arrived, it turned out her friend was caught up on the other side of the world unable to fly over because of the Icelandic volcano that erupted spewing ash for Africa. So, after doing the traditionally feminine thing, surrendering to a good cry in the ladies, she found some courage, and the information desk, and asked for help. Now despite the sign for the information desk being in English … she discovered that no-one there spoke English!
I probably would have heading back to the bog for a second bash at being all girlie …
But she stood tall, looked around and shouted as loud as she could in the middle of the airport, “Does anyone here speak English?” And was lucky enough to be approached by two English speaking people who directed her to the underground … Now to accommodate the modern byte size attention span, I will cut a long and exciting story short. She travelled on train, bus and ferry for eight hours in a country where English is a foreign language to find the hotel she was booked into. Alone. Was she terrified? Yip. Did she do it anyway? Yip! And she says she came back with a changed view of herself and of life. Now, she is like, Just do it. Now! Life is too short not to. Do what ever it is your heart tells you to do. Your heart will guide and protect you if you follow it, she said. (I know it was a “truth” as my tears welled up … a sure sign of authenticity!)
I felt inspired. I wanted to rush out there and then to buy a ticket to Bali, (after watching Eat, Pray, Love on the weekend). I thought of all the things I hesitate about in life, and I don’t just mean overseas travel. I decided to take action TODAY on some things I had been putting off. And I did. And it felt GOOD.
So, back to property management. So I didn’t rent the unit to her, but it was time very well spent.
I am so very lucky! I totally love the fact that I get paid to meet the most amazing people, to be inspired, to laugh, and cry sometimes. I get paid to meet people I would never ordinarily come across. These people make a difference to my life and they don’t even realise it.
So, who made a difference in your life today?
April 08 2011 | Community and Relationships and Society and Tenants and Uncategorized | 4 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 »
I had a delightful talk with a young couple the other day. The father of the young man insisted that if they were going to move to Auckland and enter the world of “flatting” then they needed to be educated to protect themselves. Now what a great dad that is!
I thought what we spoke about may be of interest to other fledglings about to fly the coop.
We talked about the importance of basic communication skills and plain good manners. Turn up on time, say please and thank you, meet the eyes of the property manager. (You may be amazed at how many young people are not versed in manners.) Be forthcoming about your life, what you do with your spare time. PMs want to know that you work hard, or study lots, or play sports. It goes towards building a better picture of who you are. Present yourself nicely. Brush your hair. Iron your clothes; wear deodorant (*duh*!) Watch your language, crack a few tasteful jokes. Consider it an interview and be on your best behaviour. We look for “accountability” and “reliability”. Get references from the parents you have done babysitting for. If you go to church, get one from the minister. Principals can contribute here as well. Any previous employer… you get the idea.
Tenancies come under a structure called the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and there are requirements that must be met. Ie. You cannot “Cause or permit any interference with the reasonable peace, comfort, or privacy” of other tenants or any other person “residing in the neighbourhood”
So this includes one of those “thud-thud” boy racer cars that shake the glasses of the shelves. It means turning the car stereo down as well as the house one. It means no loud parties. And understand that sitting outside at night means your voice carries, as does your conversation and the fights. Alcohol does blur your judgement and bad decisions are made. How you handle your first legally binding contract on a tenancy will make or break your renting future. Take it seriously. We can check your tenancy history in New Zealand and Australia! So flying to Aussie to get away from a bad tenancy isn’t going to solve the problem. They can and do check here too!
Really it comes down to the fact that if you are old enough to sign a legal contract and be held to it, then that means you are an adult. Act like one. Or better yet, be one.
Hmmm… I must save this article for when my teenager leaves home!
February 07 2011 | Tenants | 1 Comment »
So tell me … if you are a property manager, I challenge you, … What would you do in this situation?
You go to do a routine inspection, at a property you have on going concerns about. Every time you drive by, the curtains are shut. At inspections there is writing on the walls, damage to curtains, no holes in the wall stuff, just things that make you 14 day letter the tenant and talk to the owner about his options. But let’s be honest. It isn’t in the “preferred” part of town. It doesn’t attract top dollar, or top clientele in the best of markets. And, this is important; this tenant has NEVER been in arrears. The owner is counting on a regular income. That is a priority.
But this time, upon inspection, you find padlocks on the kitchen cupboards. You raise your eyebrows, tilt your head questionably, and ask; … “Why?” Well, you are told, because the children are stealing food (aged 8 and 2). By now you know what I’m going to say. Yip … “Hmmm…”
(Actually, I am telling you the true story as told to me by our senior Property Manager. I did the “hmmmm”ing when she was telling me the story. She was more direct … “Don’t you think it might be because they are hungry?” she said! (You GO girl!!!)
Moving along to the first bedroom. You find amongst the mess, a neatly placed blanket in the middle of the room on the floor. Your nose wrinkles, you eye the blanket suspiciously, you step forward boldly and lift the blanket. And promptly wish you hadn’t. Ahhh. That’s where the smell is coming from.
Next room: the tenants. Curtains shut, windows open, tidy and smelling ok.
Onto the last bedroom. the next child’s. A squab on the floor for a bed. And on the window sill there are not only definite signs of more excrement, but more sadly, a large gouge in the wood work. Both top and bottom. Teeth marks. Well worked into the wood, 6 to 8 inches long, both sides of the sill. Teething problems? Hunger? Boredom? Definitely not normal.
What would you do? You see property management is so much more than ensuring the rent gets paid on time. I once read an article which said property management is like a marriage. It brings out the best and the worst in a person. There is no place to hide in property management. So I am asking you: “What would you do?” (And I’m not stating here what we did or didn’t do.) What I’m offering up is the suggestion that a great property manager learns, through something akin to baptism by fire, who they really are, and what is really important to them. They get to see in black and white, what their values are, where their moral compass lies and they get to see all they can be, and sometimes, all they are too scared to be. Even if they never share what they see or the decisions they make, they have to live with their decisions and with themselves for ever. And they know their truth! And as a tenant and an investor, you can count yourself lucky if you get one that is comfortable looking themselves in a mirror.
January 19 2011 | Tenants | 1 Comment »