Posts Tagged ‘manager’

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

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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.

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When The Money Tree Wilts

April 13, 2014

Money Tree

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ALL OF US RUN INTO A CHALLENGING MONEY SITUATION AT ONE TIME or another. Its almost an inescapable part of modern life. As property managers we often become aware of renters/ residents struggling to meet expenses, particularly after some life-altering event, such as the loss of a job, a health problem or family emergency. These are unfortunate and regrettable circumstances over which few  have little, if any, control.

When such things occur most renters apparently are too stressed, emotional or embarrassed to talk about a reversal of their finances. This is fully understandable since one’s fiscal matters are generally viewed as personal and private. So most will try to slug it out on their own. In the meantime, if rent payments start to suffer and the resident is silent as to why, the property manager likely will conclude rent is deliberately being withheld and take the appropriate actions, which adds to the expense and stress levels. Moreover, as the manager watches rent payments arrive late, are partially paid or not paid at all, the time has passed for the resident to reorganize his/her finances and have a better chance at avoiding the fees that result, making the situation even worse.

Sure the rent still needs to be paid, but when a resident willingly discusses his/her economic difficulty with our property manager, and does so in a manner that allows the manager time to offer helpful suggestions,  we usually recommend one or more community organizations that can aid and/or work with him/her. Often the approach is to create and maintain a realistic household budget that can cover necessary expenses out of the resident’s remaining income. Sometimes we will teach household budgeting to residents where such training is unavailable through community groups. However, working with a community group usually is more beneficial to the resident in that it provides guidance while soothing the anxiety otherwise associated with speaking to management about the problem, and it may be a benefit to the property manager if it can appropriately side-step an eviction and resulting vacancy.

Of course, not all property managers will react the same way though we think most responsible managers are likely to view sufficient advance warning of a resident’s fiscal problem as an opportunity to assist that resident avoid the consequences of nonpayment. As professional property management, we do.

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Need coaching, training or problem troubleshooting regarding other housing issues? 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.

A Service Dog Does Not A Pet Make

March 23, 2014
Service Dog Patch

Service Dog Patch

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BY NOW MOST FOLKS KNOW A SERVICE ANIMAL (usually a dog, but not always) assists a disabled person with various aspects of daily life and that federal and state laws permit a service animal to enter spaces typically barred to pets. Also, most professional property managers understand that among other things the federal Fair Housing Act allows service animals to reside with their owners despite any “no pets” rule that may exist. Hence, a service animal should not be considered a pet.

So when does an animal become a service animal? And what separates a service animal from a pet? These are questions that can entangle managers of properties that prohibit pets. The matter becomes more complicated because there seems to be no uniform or definitive guide upon which a manager may rely. Apparently there are no animal training standards required in law, either. Yet, a service animal is not a pet.

Then how does the manager ensure a tenant is not just labeling his/her pet as a service animal in order to keep the pet? What to do? We suggest discussing with the housing attorney the applicability of the following four-step process. First, acknowledge a disability may not be visible, such as with emotional or mental disabilities. Second, have the involved tenant produce evidence of the disability and how the service animal assists that tenant with the stated disability (a note from the tenant’s doctor could serve this purpose). Third, have the involved tenant produce a service animal registration issued by the organization that trained the animal to provide the needed assistance. Fourth, whether production of the said collective documentation can be a reliable dividing line between a service animal and a pet.

Of course, there are other requirements for Fair Housing and service animals (reasonable accommodations, for example). But hopefully the foregoing will provide a starting point for separating service animals from pets. Also, more information on this topic can be found at http://www.petpartners.org/page.aspx?pid=489

Want help with developing a pet/service animal policy? Feel free to contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com  and place the word “Pets” on the subject line.

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Need coaching, training or problem troubleshooting regarding other housing issues? 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.