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Property managers: Social worker for tenants?

by Donald Horne on 14 Oct 2015
Being in the business of owning and managing residential real estate has with it the advantage that there will always be customers because people will always need a place to live, but along with that comes the challenge that the product is very personal in nature: it's somebody's home.
 
“As your partner in property investing, your property manager should be ready for anything,” says Brandon Sage of LandLord Property & Rental Management, Inc. “Both owners and tenants are only human and subject to the same weaknesses that can befall anyone; challenges which not only come about unpredictably and rarely when convenient. The property manager has to keep the peace.”
 
Job loss, drug addiction, mental illness, divorce, violence, relocation, disease and death are just a sampling of challenges that arise.
 
“Everyone has to deal with life,” says Sage, “but not everyone deals with it the right way.”
 
The challenge for a property manager requires that they become involved in personal matters without being ham-fisted to one extreme or a pushover on the other - to say nothing of not themselves getting too personally tied-in.
 
“Tenants rarely fail to pay rent out of choice and so need to be actively engaged to get to the bottom of the matter to work out the best solution for their case,” says Sage. “Each solution needs to respect not just their rights but their dignity, too. Respect is crucial.”
 
Key to a property manager being effective is their ensuring the following: communication.
 
“Keeping tenant contact details updated is crucial to acting rapidly when required as well as being available to respond when being contacted,” he says. “Once the lines are open, it then turns to keeping them open and honest. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, ‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.’”
 
The next key is compromise.
 
“The willingness to not only find common ground put to push both sides to accept a deal that is objectively the most fair yet compassionate,” he says. “’A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece.’ - Ludwig Erhard.”
 
The third key is patience.
 
“The sense to push when it will help and not push when doing so will result in pushback,” says Sage. “’Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting.’ - Joyce Meyer.”
 
The fourth and final key is persistence; the follow-through to see a matter through until its final and agreeable conclusion.
 
’Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing’ - Peter's Law #14,” says Sage, who explains that the important of balance cannot be over-stated, and if achieved will result in better outcomes for both the tenant already experiencing misfortune and the owner relying on the rental income.
 
“I have always loved the mediator-like role one enjoys as a property manager, getting to understand where each of the parties stands and finding the common ground between them,” he says. “It takes time and thought, but there's usually a way out that can result in a tenant getting the help they need and the landlord in the future getting what they are owed.”

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