How to Avoid Disputes in Property Management

Being a mediator can be one of the most challenging aspects of property management. Avoiding disagreements is key to good management.

Running a property management company is not the easiest job out there. Yes, there are a number of moving pieces. For those familiar with property management, you know all too well that when managing a house, your involved in the advertising and leasing process but also the day to day management – the inspections, the unexpected maintenance, HOA violations, insurance claims, bookkeeping and accounting. There is a lot to do.

The challenge

But you also have to be a mediator – and that’s challenging at times. Figuring out who’s responsible for a repair, for example. Is it the owner or tenant? Addressing disputes is perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a property manager and requires know how. Opinions from vendors are necessary. What did they observe? In their professional opinion, do they believe wear and tear contributed to an issue – or was it neglect. What condition was the item in question before? And this is where it can get tricky at times.

How does a property manager or Landlord handle this?

It takes skill and many times reasonableness.

Since property managers are not technicians or contractors, the opinion of a vendor is important. As a homeowner with a rental property, detailed reports are very helpful. A vendor can many times evaluate the age of an item and determine if the wear and tear was the leading cause of failure. For example, if, as a Landlord, you get a call that the dishwasher is leaking, you might wonder if its a pump, seal or something else. A qualified repairman can provide you with a report addressing the specifics – was it a seal on a 15 year old dishwasher? Was it a newly dented door? Those are key details to determine if a Landlord will pay for the repair of if it was caused by a tenant – perhaps due to an accident – and become their responsibility. The same can be applied to air conditioning issues, landscape problems, blinds, flooring issues, other appliances, etc.

While this may seem like a simple concept, many times, those details are not provided. And so, this leads to disputes and hard feelings between tenant and Landlord. So, take the extra step. It might require talking with vendors to get those details documented. Documentation is key. And remember, pictures are worth a thousand words. If you plan on assessing a charge, back it up.

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