When you first enter the business world, most of the advice you receive covers what you can and should do to achieve success. In reality, it can be equally – if not more important to understand what not to do. By recognizing and anticipating the mistakes that have been made by others who have gone before you, you can effectively avoid taking the same missteps in your own career. That said, here are six of the biggest property manager blunders to keep a watchful eye out for.
Poor Communication – As a property manager, you will inevitably be juggling communications with a host of other individuals, including clients, co-workers, contractors and vendors. Those who remain most successful in this chaotic and highly competitive industry are the ones that place communication at the forefront. Whether it’s responding to emails, managing maintenance requests, following up on applications or something else, don’t make the mistake of dropping the ball in this critical area.
Failure to Screen – If part of your job duties happens to be filling vacant properties, the most important step that cannot be skipped or cut short is screening. Proper screening may take more time and effort upfront, but it will save you aggravation and costly turnover in the long run.
Vague or Invalid Lease Agreements – The legally binding documents you sign with tenants and/or clients must clearly state all of the parameters of the agreement between both parties. If you’re missing information, something is vague or difficult to interpret clearly, or if the lease agreement contains material that is not legally sound, you could end up in a world of trouble down the road. For best results, consult with an attorney who understands these types of contracts.
Neglecting Safety – Staying on top of maintenance requests is about more than just keeping tenants and clients happy. In many cases, it could also be a matter of public safety which, if not adequately accounted for, could result in a costly lawsuit in the future. Make sure you always stay on top of incoming requests and, whenever possible, be proactive about things like repairs. Also, be careful not to neglect things like keeping hallways well-lit and staying up-to-date on smoke alarms.
Being Too Lenient – Being in the property management industry does require a certain degree of finesse and friendliness, but there’s a fine line between being nice and being taken advantage of. Failing to have critical agreements in writing – such as lease terms, rental amounts, fees, etc. – can end up coming back to haunt you if and when someone fails to comply. Likewise, you must be willing and able to firmly enforce things like payment due dates and any deviations from the written agreement.
Ignoring the Law – There’s a popular saying that “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” and this concept most certainly applies to the property management industry. There are a great number of rules, regulations and laws that govern what is and isn’t allowed, and if you are not keenly aware of these things, you could end up in legal hot water. Again, consulting with a trusted attorney is advised.
Being successful in the property management field takes grit, determination and a willingness to continue learning. Knowing the six common errors listed above and how to avoid them can help position you for a much better outcome.