By: Eveline Brownstein ©
The property owner is, of course. It is the responsibility of the Property Management Company to always make decisions in the best interest of the owner of the managed property. A critical part of this is to ensure that the property is legally compliant with all local tenant/landlord laws. Tenants have rights and property managers must protect their property owners by ensuring that they comply with those legal rights at all times. A property manager should engage in ongoing real estate education to keep up to date with changing legislation.
A good property management company will be helpful to the tenants wherever it can, but it must beware of letting go of its business goals in favor of its manager/tenant relationship. Renters are not your customers. Renters are the customers of the property owner and you are obligated to secure good tenant-customers for your owner-customers. Sometimes, in an admirable effort to reduce vacancies and keep tenants happy, property managers inadvertently closely guard their friendly relationship with a tenant and become hesitant to protect the property owner. On those occasions these undesirable situations may occur:
- Violations of lease provisions (sometimes because the manager mistakenly believes it is minor in a bigger picture)
- Delaying rent collection
- Delaying enforcing lease provisions relating to tenant upkeep of the property
- Delaying beginning a necessary eviction process
- Overspending on repairs
- Undertaking unnecessary repairs or items of a merely cosmetic nature
- Permitting a tenant to choose a repair professional
- Permitting a tenant to undertake repairs to the property
- Trusting a prospective tenant’s statements about their background or credit, over proper checks of their credit and background
Property managers owe a legal and fiduciary duty to their property owner clients. Property owners owe a legal obligation to their tenants. Property managers are the agents entrusted with that legal obligation, and if they are diligent in their legal and fiduciary duty to their property owners, they will also be effective in helping to manage their owners’ legal obligations to the tenants.
Owners should hire well-qualified property managers so as to minimize their legal exposure. Property managers should always know and follow local regulations and laws regarding tenants, and regarding their legal, fiduciary duty to their property owners. Owners are paying property managers for their services. Therefore, property owners are the clients of the property manager. Tenants are paying the owners. Therefore, tenants are the clients of the property owner.