Missteps. Mess-ups. Gaffes. Or as Homer says, “Doh!” Whatever you call them, mistakes are common in life. Everyone has them, even the best of us, and especially when you’re new on the job.
That being said, there are two types of mistakes. There are the ones that you can look at immediately afterward and chuckle about. Things like forgetting someone’s name, or accidentally going to check the wrong unit. Little gaffes that can be laughed at and learned from.
And then there are the ones that can really hurt you.
As a new property manager, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. You’re the owner’s first line of defense when dealing with tenants, and you’re the go-to person when tenants have a problem. While you can expect there to be minor setbacks from time to time, there are some oversights that can break you early into your tenure. Let’s look at five new property management mistakes, and how you can avoid them.
- Not having a clear written property management agreement. You must always have a clear and legitimate written agreement, as it can protect you legally It should detail what you as the property manager are responsible for, as well as what your client’s responsibilities are. This documentation should be drawn up with an attorney you trust – avoid trying to make one up yourself.
- Not checking the property on a regular basis. The doors may not be falling off the hinges, but that doesn’t mean that all is necessarily in order. Some of the costliest problems start out small and go unnoticed – until they get too big to miss. At the very least, a quarterly inspection will help keep you abreast of the property’s status. Be thorough and don’t discount any sign of trouble, no matter how small it looks.
- No move-in and move-out verification. Whether a tenant is first entering the unit or is packing up and leaving, you need to establish the state of the housing at both times. Money can be lost over property damage and theft, and you can be left holding the bag if you didn’t verify what was what beforehand. Make sure that a move-in and move-out inspection is carried out, and have the tenant sign any necessary forms with it. It is a good idea to have photo and video proof when the inspections are performed.
- Not staying on top of repairs. Repair issues can easily add up to become big issues. They can affect the value of the property, affect tenant retention, and also turn into safety hazards. If you get word that something needs to be fixed, get to it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more you stand to lose.
- Not keeping in touch with tenants. This is one of the most dangerous property management mistakes you can make as a new managing team. It is vital for renters to know that they can reach out to you and rely on you – otherwise, they will not trust you and may be more likely to leave. You need to keep them in the loop, communicating things such as increases of rent, changes in policy and anything else that may affect them as a tenant.
We are all prone to blunders here and there, but these property management mistakes should be avoided at all costs. Compared to them, visiting the wrong unit will seem quite trivial.