EPMEPM: First Person

Why won’t they do as I say?

Many property managers feel it is their job to take charge of their clients, but Nick Brown explains there's benefit to be found in taking a step back.

I’ve been thinking about what property managers often say are their stress triggers and the things which make property management difficult at times.

Property management is often referred to as the ugly sibling to sales and other sectors of our industry, and that’s because if we all had smooth-sailing tenancies the need for property management wouldn’t exist. Property managers have a job because tenants report maintenance, they may not pay rent or a property may be vacant.

The key is understanding how we create a mindset that allows us to deal with those things which must be done while keeping sight of what our role is and enjoying it as much as we can.

I have always had a very strong belief that property managers are not decision makers; we are negotiators and communicators. Our job, when engaged by a property owner, is to make sure that a tenancy runs as smoothly as possible.

I often hear property managers say things like, ‘The owner won’t listen to me and is making my job harder,’ or ‘Why won’t the owner do as I say?’. We all have those moments, there’s no doubt about that – but we need to stop, take a breath and think what our job as a property manager involves.

I have always had a very strong belief that property managers are not decision makers; we are negotiators and communicators.

If you have the right rapport with your clients they will follow your guidance and advice, but you should always remember that (provided it’s lawful) you have to follow the client’s instructions, even if you don’t personally agree with them. You may advise an owner it’s not wise to re-carpet the whole room when the tenant only damaged one area, but if they disagree let them go through the dispute process and see how the cards fall.

So many property managers get bogged down thinking they must make all the decisions and that the fate of the world is on their shoulders. With the utmost respect to every property manager out there, please know that is not actually the case.

If we can show the landlord we are acting in their best interest and we give them the best advice possible for their investment, working with them becomes so much easier. If the landlord decides to act differently to our advice and it doesn’t work out the way they wanted, they can’t point the finger at us and say it’s our fault, even if they want to.

The reason I say we are not the decision makers is not to pass the buck or not do our job; it’s to remind myself that we are being paid to perform a role with boundaries and limitations. This is also a risk management strategy for the agency. If we do something against the owner’s instructions (or without instruction) it puts unnecessary risk on the business.

I can tell you from experience, and from mistakes made in my early years of real estate, if you start thinking that we are communicators and negotiators the job becomes easier to deal with on a day to day. You can stop thinking that it’s up to you to fix everything, and know that you’re giving each landlord and tenant your best by communicating and helping them understand their obligations, responsibilities and rights in the tenancy agreement.

Education is key – educate your landlord, educate your tenant and above all educate yourself!

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