Archive for the ‘Property Management’ Category

Property Management: The Winter Slide-Step

November 28, 2014

2014-11-28 - Man slipping and falling

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THE NORTHEAST’S MID-AUTUMN SNOWFALL reminds us of the need to be prepared for outdoor hazards the cold weather season brings. For snow-belt folks keeping a shovel, snow blower and sand/ salt handy are daily rituals, while clearing sidewalks, parking lots and common areas of the white stuff are almost subconscious activities.

Small wonder then that many of our thoughts and discussions this time of year focus on weather and the hazards it may bring. But what about the perils outdoor weather causes indoors? Even with shoveled sidewalks, as someone enters and walks through the building there are bits and pieces of the “marshmallow world” that are apt to enter as well. Snowflakes sticking to shoes, boots and clothing tend to soften then intermittently fall (typically unnoticed) to the floor.

Often the result is a trail of wet, partially melted snowy spots that can be very slippery, especially on hardwood, tile, linoleum or similar floor surfaces. Unfortunately it might be a trail leading to a catastrophe for an unsuspecting soul who inadvertently steps on one or more of those spots, suddenly loses his/ her balance then hard-lands on the floor.

This type of slip and fall can cause varying degrees of injury, including torn/ sprained muscles, broken bones, head trauma, paralysis and, perhaps, death in some situations. It has the potential to become a devastatingly bad scenario in any building, be it a single/ multi-family residence, commercial structure or governmental building. Striving to prevent such an occurrence is a winter-long work in progress requiring constant attention, particularly during a snow or ice event.

Beyond being a problem for property managers, there is the pain and the overall effect on any injured person … and let’s not forget the possibility of a liability lawsuit for the property owner.

So what can be done? Other than completely closing the building there likely is no single or series of measures that will provide one-hundred percent protection from a slip and fall, though there are things that help lessen the possibility of it happening.

In addition to other actions, we usually seek to prevent such incidents by having large moisture-absorbing doormats placed by each entry along with an attention grabbing sign to remind folks to “scrape” their shoes/ boots and to “wipe” off snow clinging to clothing. Then, where possible, we strive to install non-skid floor surfaces on heavy foot-traffic areas and stairways as well as use secured or non-skid moisture-absorbing runners in hallways.

To be sure, there are other steps that can and should be taken. Among them are ensuring the involved areas are properly lighted, regularly removing/ drying floor surfaces of wet/ snowy spots and debris as well as frequently cleaning doormats as well as runners.

Bottom line: During foul winter weather building interiors need the same vigilance as does the building exterior.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use, Disclaimer and Disclosure: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog: (i) may possibly contain one or more instances of unverified information; and (ii) is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance, oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements, comments and/or opinions of blog authors and/or users of this blog may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation. Users who comment on this blog are solely responsible for their comments and opinions.  Comments and/or opinions deemed uncivil or inappropriate will be removed or not posted.  

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Real Estate: Security Cameras Worth A Look?

November 8, 2014

14Nov08 - security camera

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EVEN AS THE VIBRANT COLORS OF AUTUMN BRIGHTEN OUR DAYS, THE DARKNESS OF LONGER NIGHTS presents a potentially problematic scenario for homeowners, tenants and property managers. For most it has relatively nothing to do with longer hours of lighting costing more since they plan on that happening and budget for it. In our case it is a reminder of what transpired at one of our client’s properties a few years ago.

While extended winter nights are no revelation to this part of the world, they may bring increased trepidation to those concerned about burglars and similar hooligans who are apt to operate under cover of night’s murkiness, which is a topic discussed in many other forums. For us autumn evokes memories of vandal misdeeds.

Our client owned a stately, well-maintained century old apartment house with carefully landscaped grounds, and as consultants to that property we were never aware of a graffiti problem. To our knowledge there was no such trouble in the neighborhood, or even in adjacent neighborhoods. Nonetheless, we learned that one autumn night the out-building walls and doors became billboards for such displays. Although the skill of the “artists” was quite good and their productions were not profane, their handiwork defaced the building and most definitely did not belong on the property. Nobody saw the vandals or knew who they were yet their “art” magically appeared on a regular basis. The owner seemed unable to stop the delivery of another wall mural by the latest aspiring Rembrant.

Our previous recommendations that a security camera system be inconspicuously installed had always been dismissed because the owner wanted to maintain an exterior environment representing the period in which the buildings were constructed. But the repeated instances of graffiti had the owner relent and, interestingly, the artwork ceased immediately — an occurrence that questioned whether the graffiti was an “inside” job (performed by one or more of the owner’s tenant household members or guests) or whether the vandals were super sensitive and savvy to security apparatus. It remains anyone’s guess as they were never caught or identified.

Though the vandals departed as abruptly as they entered the scene the owner was pleased just to have the problem resolved, which was the primary purpose for the camera system. However, the system brought other benefits to the owner as well. Tenants liked knowing the camera system was there, especially when walking to or from their vehicles after dark. And the system qualified the property for an insurance premium reduction.

Bottom line: If your property doesn’t have such a system, it certainly is worth a look.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Property Management: The Uninvited of Autumn

September 29, 2014

2014-09-28 - Raccoon on Roof

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A SENSE OF ALARM WAKES YOU in the middle of a crisp autumn night. But the silence and darkness assure you it’s just the sleepy residue of a quickly evaporating dream. You roll into a more comfortable position but then snap to attention! In the wall near the ceiling is a sound barely a decibel or two above the imagination, something between light scratching and scurrying of tiny feet. Is it a mouse … or something else?

While nesting spots may be sought in spring, in our area many property managers see autumn as the season more likely to have us become potential involuntary hosts not only to mice but possibly bats, rats, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, reptiles or insects.

We know one case in which a pregnant squirrel apparently found a way to gnaw through an attic vent screen, turning the space into a nursery. Being undetected for a time, the eventual removal of the mother and offspring was no easy feat. Professionals spent two days locating, capturing then removing them and their lair. Their lengthy residency magnified health concerns as well as damage, which included excrement cleansing, nibbled wire repairs, insulation replacement, reinforcing chewed wood, fixing the attic vent screen as well as hunting for and removing any ticks, fleas and other vermin that were left behind. The work cost hundreds of dollars.

To save money affected folks often try ousting the invaders themselves, which could be a hazardous undertaking. Among other risks a scared or cornered animal may attack, possibly causing infection, disease or even rabies. When viewed this way, paying a professional may seem small compared to the consequences of one or more potential missteps when dealing with many-legged squatters.

What to do? Strive to prevent the problem in the first place. Though no strategy can always guarantee wild critters stay outdoors, some common deterrents are: In addition to using reliable wire screens on all vents (including clothes dryer vents) use them on all open windows and doors. Since a mouse can breach a quarter-inch crack, while a bat can penetrate a dime-sized opening and a raccoon can maneuver a four inch or smaller hole, patch all exterior cracks and unnecessary openings.

Two publications add several other suggestions. From Popular Mechanics: Keep plants, piles of wood and other items at least two feet from the house; trim vegetation; and plug gaps around wires and pipes. Per the New York Times: Secure the chimney; stack firewood at least two feet off the ground; trim tree branches extending over the roof; remove outside pet food or water; and never separate a nursing animal from its offspring as she will not stop trying to reach them.

The bottom line: Don’t delay if you suspect critters invaded the building. Some may be seem cute but they too can be dangerous. Moreover, the problem intensifies the longer they remain. Retaining qualified professionals seems the better method to handle the matter.

Beyond our own experiences the following articles are referenced and were used to assist with this article. Check them out for more complete and detailed information on this subject.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Property Management: NY Sprinkler System Notices

September 18, 2014

2014-09-09 - Fire in Home

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A PROPERTY MANAGER MUST CONSTANTLY LOOKOUT for various obvious factors that may affect a rental property, particularly those that may lead to menacing or disastrous events, such as fire hazards and regulations that affect those situations.

In the realm of residential and multi-family properties there are a number of worrisome situations that can be nightmarish ― but a structure succumbing to flames can be one of the more frightening. Beyond losing a home, which is certainly bad enough, a resident frequently must deal with the loss of irreplaceable family pictures and sentimental personal items. Worse, for the resident and manager alike, are the injuries and lives lost in house fires. The collective result can be significant tolls on all those affected.

In 2012 alone there were about 364,500 residential fires that caused more than $6.5 billion in losses. And during the ten-year period of 2001 – 2010 house fires claimed an average of 3,843 lives each of those years. In other words, for every single day in that ten-year period a rough average of eleven people died in a house fire!

What is being done? Since a property manager physically is unable to monitor fire safety in each dwelling at all times, management’s plan to lessen damage and injury usually involves other doable measures that are in addition to upgrades, repairs, maintenance and regulation compliance. Such actions typically include but are not limited to improved fire-retardant construction techniques where and when possible, clearly marked alternative escape routes, functional fire/ smoke detectors, operational fire extinguishers and heightened resident awareness.

To be sure, those said procedures are often mandated in various jurisdictions. Over the years they have become more well-known and as a practical matter they should be in use (contact your local fire department for tips and advice about fire safety and applicable laws). Such strategies appear to have led to a 21% reduction in the number of house fire related deaths. But in regard to residence fires, and perhaps less well known, is a soon to be effective newly enacted amendment to existing New York State law of which we became aware several weeks ago.

In essence the amended law seeks to require a more informed renter decision about a leased premises he/ she intends to occupy. After its effective date residential leases need to contain a bold-faced notice advising potential renters whether the premises being considered has or does not have a “maintained and operative sprinkler system” as such a fire sprinkler system is defined in section 155-a of New York State executive law.  Reportedly the amendment will be known as section 231-a of the New York State real property law and is expected to become effective on or about December 3, 2014.

The bottom line: If your residential rental property lies within New York State you should contact your attorney to learn how the amended law may apply to you and, if it does, inquire how your leases may need to be revised.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Property Management: Rules to Please All the People?

August 28, 2014

14Aug28 New Pix-2

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OKAY. YOU’RE INTERESTED IN RENTING LIVING QUARTERS in a very suitable location, the monthly charges are acceptable and the property is attractively maintained. Then you’re confronted with the rental paperwork. Naturally, there is a lease and its rules. But you may wonder: Why are there so many rules? You would not be alone if you question the overwhelming bulk of regulations at some multi-family properties.

Consider one of our consulting assignments that included a review of the rules and regulations for a combined multi-family and commercial property. Predictably we found and recommended there should be additions, updates, revision and elimination of various rule sections to better comply with governmental requirements and improve clarity. However, the document was voluminous, with details that consumed almost fifty pages. The word “excessive” came to mind.

Nonetheless, the property manager and landlord insisted all the rules were necessary due to prior issues with renters. Their position was confirmed through an examination of the property’s previous enforcement actions and violations. Consequently we developed a way to accomplish the same goals for resident conduct and still reduce the document by almost forty percent.

While the property manager and landlord were pleased with the result, presenting the revised rules to a residents meeting was more challenging (read “tumultuous”). Despite the reduction, the courteous residents complained the revision was too lengthy to read, grasp or remember — the less courteous revealed their frustration at the remaining mass of the document in a more “colorful”  manner.

Like our initial review, residents cited examples they felt were common knowledge and shouldn’t be included, such as removing trash from the living spaces or keeping windows closed in winter (the landlord provided heat) or properly storing outdoor objects apt to become airborne during a storm. They asked: Who would want to live in trash, be cold or risk storm injury or damage? We explained that busy folks ― even those who try to be vigilant of such matters ― unfortunately can be preoccupied with other things and not always readily recognize when something requires attention, like the lack of cleanliness, reasonable energy conservation or storm preparation.

We spoke to a potential ability to eliminate more of the written rules when we all live in an ideal world in which everyone ― everyone! ― constantly is aware of and uses the qualities of common sense, fairness, courtesy as well as respect toward others. Residents were told until that ideal world emerges the landlord’s efforts to maintain order on the property mostly would be achieved through enforcement of those qualities as they are reflected in the rules. If not in the rules, there would be no mechanism to enforce them.

A reduced decibel level rippled through the crowd as those words of logic apparently struck a chord with reasonable attendees, who thankfully represented most residents … most, but not all of them. The minority remained vocal and apparently unyielding.

Perhaps one day in that ideal world it will be possible to please all the people.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Inhouse Corporation: Our 25th Year

July 28, 2014

Celebrating  25 Years of Service

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AS WE ENTER OUR TWENTY-FIFTH YEAR OF SERVICE we are proud to look back at our accomplishments. Its a track record that includes non-subsidized affordable homeownership, manufactured/ modular homes, real estate broker services, multi-family/ commercial property management as well as the creation and operation of residential cooperatives for modest income households.

Among the entities we’ve assisted are municipalities, government agencies, investors, landlords and residents/ tenants with administrative services, management, consulting, research, training and mentoring for all sorts of issues, problems, questions and day-to-day routines as they relate to housing and income properties.

Although New York is our home state, as internet technology has grown over the years so too has our ability to render many of our services online to virtually all corners of the state. And we’ve even taken assignments in other areas on a case-by-case basis. Yet our philosophy remains the same — we don’t try gaining business by cutting friendly personal attention, reducing value or sacrificing quality to our existing clients. We build our firm one client at a time. Its probably one reason many remain clients for years.

Many thanks to all our friends, clients and business associates who helped us to reach this point.

We look forward to working with you and making new friends and clients during the next twenty-five years.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Rules Are Rules

July 8, 2014

 14Jul08 New pix

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A CONSULTING PROJECT HAD US WORKING IN A RESIDENTIAL COOPERATIVE COMMUNITY with extremely limited vehicle parking. A handful of dwelling units had two parking spaces while the remainder had one. On good days parking was chaotic.

Although the purpose of our consulting mission did not initially include parking issues, the community manager, who had been hired a couple of months earlier, asked us to review the situation to learn if there may be a way to mitigate the problem. He explained haphazard parking interfered with emergency responder access and caused frequent neighbor disputes caused by guests and residents indiscriminately parking on internal roadways and using parking spaces assigned to other units.

Studying the matter we not only found the co-op rules specifically prohibited the ongoing parking turmoil but also found sufficient room on either side of the community entrance driveway to accommodate a parking field for guests and excess vehicles that would ease the situation. Accordingly, having the co-op seek municipal authorization to construct such a parking field was our recommendation.

It was then we were informed of the manager’s secondary, and perhaps true, concern. Seems a few influential folks on the co-op’s committees were pressuring the recently hired manager to ignore the parking violations of their household members and guests, yet those committee people wanted rules enforced against all others.

Under the circumstances the manager felt he was in a “no win” situation. If rules are executed against everyone, as they should be, the influential folks would be angry; but if he imposed the rules as requested, it would be arbitrary and selective enforcement. Wanting to keep his new job he wasn’t sure what path to follow ― it seemed a form of mental gridlock expressed through his failure to act, even though he knew inaction might expose the co-op to municipal code violations, among other things. He quietly asked us what he should do.

A quick examination of his employment contract made plain his responsibility to enforce all the board’s rules against all violators. So we sat him down and dispensed a brief primer, explaining that although he must treat everyone with courtesy and respect, in the proper performance of his job as manager he would not make everyone happy at all times. We stressed his job is to uniformly apply and fairly implement the rules upon each violator regardless of his/ her office in the cooperative. The board of directors expects its rules to be enforced and pays him to do so.

He understood then inquired: What about those committee members? We told him to inform them his job is to enforce the legal rules the directors adopt. If those rules are incorrect or improper they should request their board to modify them. Otherwise, as long as they are legal and comply with cooperative documents, he has no choice but to enforce them as they exist.

Happily, that manager kept his job. After all, rules are rules.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

When Idle Rumor Isn’t

June 1, 2014

 DSCN0428

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YOU’VE HEARD THEM, AS WE HAVE. They’re rumors that take flight like dandelion seeds seeking a fertile place to take root then grow and regenerate ― rumors that may but frequently do not have any relationship to truth.

In the property management arena an onsite manager usually isn’t privy to rumor involving him/ her, the management firm or the property being managed. Even when aware, most rumors typically seem trivial, nonsensical, inconsequential or ridiculous to the degree of blatant improbability. So why bother with them? Aren’t there far more important things needing attention?

Actually, such reactions can be shortsighted. Whether factual or not, we’ve found a persistent rumor is similar to a persistent trickle of water against a building foundation … it has power to undermine. And while residents are apt to lack fondness for paying rent, they should recognize the management team as being competent, professional and ethical. Yet, an unchecked rumor circulating among residents that negatively affects property management may seriously damage that recognition even when the rumor is totally unfounded.

Case in point: A troubled residential cooperative we knew did not have a professional management firm to handle day-to-day matters. Instead the co-op board of directors seemed to inappropriately tolerate its president making unauthorized, unilateral, often inconsistent or confusing, operational decisions evidently based on little understanding of property management. Compounding that situation were infrequent, irregular and poorly advertised board meetings.  It was a setting ripe for rumors … and fly they did. But the two most prevalent ones pointed to the board as either secretly planning to sell the co-op’s real property to a third-party, or allowing the president and/or one or more board members to secretly arrange their purchase of the property.

How those two rumors started is anyone’s guess. Each was outrageously false because the co-op bylaws required all co-op shareholders to vote on a sale of co-op property in an open shareholder meeting. Inasmuch as a quick read of the relevant bylaws section would easily debunk both rumors the board simply laughed them off in the belief the absolute lack of truth would cause the rumors to die.

But they did not die. They persisted. They caused private worries of shareholders to evolve into shared concerns between neighbors then to morph into grumblings too loud for the board to ignore. By the time the board decided to react it was too late. Even the bylaws could not seem to dispel the entrenched misunderstanding, eventually leading to shareholders forcing a meeting with the consequence of the president being removed and several board members being replaced. Unfortunately the unrest ensnared two of the hardest working board members who probably should have been retained. Worse, the new board seemed unable to rectify the tailspin the rumors caused, which, among other things, eventually collapsed the cooperative.

What should have been done? In a nutshell: Competent professional management should have been retained; co-op business and decisions should have been conducted and made in as transparent a manner as possible, with the board conducting regular meetings under proper advance notice that provided time for shareholders to express their concerns; regular accurate communication should have been distributed to shareholders (for example, a newsletter); and rumors should have been promptly, straightforwardly and respectfully addressed.

Bottom line: Establish procedures to help prevent destructive rumors and don’t ignore them if they arise nonetheless.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Qualities of a Property Management Firm

May 25, 2014

Prop Mgt Questions

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DISTURBING HEADLINES APPEAR ALL TOO FREQUENTLY: Property manager guilty of rent theft; property manager pockets security deposits; property manager ignores city water bills. And we cringe reading them because good managers do exist. Finding good managers is the problem, especially since no particular search method is failure proof.

To the rescue―or so it would seem―come the various articles that list the tips that will aid a property owner in selecting a good manager for his/her property. Good skills with people, attention to detail and a willingness to work weekends are commonly mentioned attributes. Are such tips helpful? Well, let’s put it this way, it would be difficult to argue that such qualities do not matter because they do. So if you’re a property owner and only need someone to relay resident complaints, call the plumber and collect rent, then employing someone of pleasant character and reasonable responsibility may suffice. However, such an employee may have minimal, if any, appropriate training in, working knowledge of or meaningful experience with the requirements, obligations and laws that apply to rental property operations. In which case inadvertent violations are more prone to occur.

Interestingly, we find too few articles focus on contract property management firms, and even fewer seem to mention management firms that are professionally licensed and insured even though some jurisdictions require a license and insurance to perform management services. Of course, holding a license doesn’t guaranty competence though the license should be a more reliable indicator of the firm’s expertise, which is one reason we recommend seeking a professional firm that is licensed and insured whenever we’re retained to assist with property management firm selection

When we make this recommendation someone usually says it is a self-serving requirement since we are a licensed and insured firm that performs property management services. Quite honestly we understand such a recommendation may be viewed that way, but experience shows a licensed firm displays a professional commitment to better service through training, experience and competence. Moreover, such a firm is likely to bring other notable staff qualities to the table.

Foremost among these is familiarity with other similar projects, which is another frequently and correctly mentioned tip in the said articles. Yet nearly as important though seldom referenced is the property management firm’s ability to effectively communicate with resident tenants. This goes beyond sending flyers about a residents’ bake sale or writing violation letters. It is the regular proactive effort to keep residents informed about their building or community, fully answering questions, assisting with resident problems when appropriate and being receptive to residents suggestions for improvement.

If a property owner finds a competent licensed and insured management firm having experience with similar properties, people skills, attention to detail and effective communication, in our opinion that property owner may have hit a grand slam home run.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Property Management: Not Just About Checks

May 18, 2014

 Headache

(Image Credit: Google Images – pixabay.com)

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IT SEEMED A STRAIGHTFORWARD ASSIGNMENT: PROPERTY MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING … though it evolved into a eye-opening lesson for the property owner.

A widowed woman and her son retained us to help her re-establish fiscal stability in the forty site manufactured home community she and her late husband owned. Her adult son lived in another state and her husband, who was the property manager for the community, had been seriously ill for the prior year and unable to conduct the business. Other than depositing whatever rent payments arrived and paying overdue bills, the widow knew little about what her husband did but she wanted the business to continue and she wanted to learn about property management.

With her son’s attorney we ironed out an agreement that would have us temporarily manage the property while we trained the widow on community operations. As a means of introduction to her training we had the widow (the community owner) look over our shoulder as we worked with her to create then implement a strategy to get the community on its financial feet.

In consultation with the owner’s accountant, using available bank statements and committing nearly two weeks to develop a fairly reliable and reasonably clear financial picture from the montage of missing and unorganized data. Slowly unpaid bills and overdue rent were identified and rectification commenced.

Residents with outstanding rent fell into a delinquency range of one to ten months. We sought to settle delinquencies through voluntary resident cooperation and use evictions only as a last resort. Payment plans most residents could afford were created. For the few who couldn’t afford the payment plans we found neighborhood organizations to assist them.  The strategy worked in every case but one ― a young couple with rent severely overdue. Every effort to communicate with them was met with silence. The owner tried to reach out to them since the couple had always been friendly towards her. Unfortunately she too had no luck. Weeks elapsed, eviction was started.

Each step in the eviction process saw the owner request more time for them. And at every step we not only explained our desire to avoid eviction but also the realities of the matter, including the absence of their cooperation left no other options. Her son also spoke to her about this. Finally, having obtained the warrant of eviction and having waited the mandatory period for warrant enforcement, the Sheriff arrived and the physical eviction began … then it stopped midway.

While we dislike evictions, the property owner was upset to the point of positioning herself so that she bodily blocked eviction efforts. It took a very long phone call from her son to convince her to let the eviction proceed. Days later she called to apologize, saying there is more to running the community and property management than she thought. She announced her intention to sell the community, and she did.

Lesson learned: It’s not  just collecting and writing checks.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

***************************

Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.