You Know What Sucks About Property Management? Sometimes everything…


LocksmithFor several years I swore that I would never do property management. Horror stories abound – crazy tenants, lousy landlords, low pay, attorneys mucking things up, special/stupid Department of Real Estate rules, accounting nightmares. All that (and more). Ever heard anyone say something good about property management?

Yeah, me neither.

Yet we went off and did it any way. Why? Well, at the time it seemed like a good idea. We wanted to be able to offer our investor clients that needed property management true full service. It always felt weird to help an investor buy a home, knowing they were going to rent it out and that they needed a property manager and just saying, “Thanks for using our brokerage, good luck with that property management thing!”

That, plus with the rash of folks out there loosing their homes and needing to move into rentals it seemed like adding an additional income stream to the brokerage made good business sense.

So almost a year ago to the day we stumbled into a great guy (ahem, Jason Geroux) with property management experience and we took the plunge.

We set up all the requisite bank accounts. Stole Made forms. Wrote a bigger check to our Errors & Omissions insurance carrier. Talked to the CPA who looked like he wanted to kill us for even thinking about it. Fortunately, he rocks too and was/is a tremendous help. All that stuff and presto, we were in the property management business!


And you know what? It really didn’t suck all that much. We had great tenants, and great property owners. I thought to myself, “Self, what’s up with all these horror stories?”

Enter today. (Well, technically yesterday given that it’s 1:48am right now.)

Today sucked. Big time.

We’ve got a tenant who is having trouble paying their rent. I won’t get into all the gory details but suffice it to say we’ve postponed things, bent over backwards, they are trying, we are trying, the property owner is trying yet shit is still spiraling down the drain. The courts got involved and the good old Constable lock-out was supposed to happen in just a few hours. This is where the law knocks on the door and tells the tenant to step into the driveway while a locksmith changes the locks.

Not a pleasant experience for anyone involved.

Lots of time on the phone today with a very upset tenant, a remarkably together property owner, attorneys, constables – it just wasn’t fun. At all. I’ve found the suckage so many talk about whenever property management comes up in conversations (and yes, Realtors have no life and actually talk about things like property management over beers. Pathetic isn’t it?)

Fortunately, the tenant managed to come up with just enough funds to hold off the constable and locksmith for a couple more weeks. I’ve got a bad feeling we’ll be right back into the same spiraling pile o’ feces soon enough. But maybe not. Who knows.

All I do know is I feel horrible for almost tossing someone to the curb. But at some point, that’s what has to be done. Trust me, it’s not like the rent is due on the 1st and we start eviction proceedings on the 5th. We’re talking months behind. None-the-less, Jay and Jason feel like evil Spawn of the Devil. Maybe we’re lucky that we haven’t come this close to an eviction in the past year. Maybe we’ve just got mad skills at screening tenants and the statistics finally caught up with us.

Whatever. It’s a given that sooner or later (and I’m still betting sooner with this particular one) someone will have to be evicted. And it’s going to suck. For them, for us, for everyone involved. I suppose it’s a fact of life when it comes to property management.

But I don’t have to like it.


Photo Credit: Will Scullin on Flickr. CC Licensed.



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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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