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Firing your biggest pain in the ass clients

By Jarrad Mahon
30 April 2014 | 12 minute read
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printjarrad2-med 7060This post will probably not make me very popular with any landlord who is a pain in the ass to their property manager. I'm actually hoping and counting on that! 


Blogger: Jarrad Mahon, director, Investors Edge Real Estate


When I first started my business, we took just about any client on for property management — we needed the business to survive! After two years, we noticed that the painful landlords also referred to other landlords who were like them — painful. We have all heard the saying, 'Birds of a feather flock together' — well this saying is true.

What we found is that although the painful landlords were only a small part of our rental portfolio, they were causing us a vast majority of stress and wasted time. That's time that could have been invested making our best clients even happier.

So after coming to these realisations, the options we had were to let the pain continue, sell the painful management to another agency, or fire them. So in June 2010, we identified all the painful landlords and released 23 properties from management.

These are the characteristics of a painful landlord.

Not willing to do necessary property maintenance
This leaves the tenants unhappy, in some cases moving out and in some cases costing themselves more money by not allowing us to address small issues before they become big problems. For example, one landlord wouldn't allow us to go ahead with getting his gutters cleaned when they were overflowing with leaves. For three months we gave them numerous reminders, and with winter approaching we insisted they either authorise us to send a handyman or we make time for them to go around and do it themselves. They ignored the requests and the next month the first of the winter rains caused the gutters to flood into the eaves, the roof space, internal walls and lounge room carpets, causing extensive damage that their insurance would not cover because they had not carried out the maintenance. Total damage bill was $7,000.

Privacy invaders
Separating  emotions from investing is tough when money is on the line. But when a landlord continues to show up unannounced to their property, that affects the tenants’ right to peaceful enjoyment. We had one landlord who despite us alerting them of the tenants’ rights, they just kept calling in to check up on things. It can be especially hard for a landlord who has managed their property privately to let go.

Sometimes you can go the extra mile for people and it's never far enough. When you are working as a property manager because you genuinely love helping people, it is very disheartening when you don't get a simple "thanks". We had an interstate landlord whom we were managing a furnished rental property for. We had just leased the property and it had no TV. So, we offered to get a couple of prices and arranged one for him. After finding an amazing special, we rang him for approval and put the purchase on a personal credit card and drove it over to the house to set it up for the tenants. He was always difficult to deal with, gruff on the phone and we are far better off now not working with him.

I don't need to tell you all the ways landlords can be more of a pain than they are worth. Focus on working with the landlords who are like minded and who are a pleasure to serve. Do as we did and fire the painful ones — you will thank me.

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