You did everything right when you bought your second home. You researched for months before deciding on the perfect location for you and your family. You engaged a local realtor and flew out to see the listings in person, and you made sure everything was in perfect condition, from the weatherproofed roof and windows to the steps leading down to the private beach.
You also wasted in no time in finding a property manager. You collected references for companies in the area and interviewed your prospects in person to ensure that they maintain a professional appearance and demeanor. You checked to see if they belonged to trade or professional associations and whether any complaints had been filed against them with the state agency that oversees real estate, and you were satisfied on both counts.
For a few years, things were fine. They sent you regular status reports about the property and on your visits there everything appeared to be properly maintained and weatherproofed. And while the concierge services they promised weren’t exactly white glove, they were acceptable, or at least not disappointing enough to go through the hassle of finding another company.
Then Covid happened. Suddenly, the only “traveling” you’re contemplating is a trip to the grocery and your days are divided between homeschooling the kids and pivoting your business so it continues to thrive during the shutdown. That’s when you hear about the booming real estate market where your beach house is located, mostly due to people fleeing there from nearby cities. You don’t want to sell, but renting it out starts to look more attractive, both for the added income and because it will be nice to know someone is there to watch over things. In no time at all your property manager secures a tenant, and you’re thrilled to have one thing off your plate. You even let it go when they are lax about sending the status reports and are less responsive to your calls and emails. But when you start getting complaints from your neighbors about loud parties and a letter from the home owner’s association about a downed tree on the property, you realize it’s time to take action before someone takes action against you.
4 Actions you can take to remedy your property management challenges:
- Demand an immediate meeting with your property manager to discuss the problem. Most people have tried to be understanding during the pandemic, but you have to draw the line at incurring liability or untold amounts in property damage. Find out what they are doing to improve their performance, whether that means hiring more people or utilizing all-in-one property management solutions and other technological tools to deal with logistics. In the future there may be a superstorm or another challenging situation, and if the company can’t assure you that they will get their act together it’s time to fire them and find another.
- Engage an experienced landlord-tenant attorney to learn what your rights and responsibilities are with regard to tenants, the property management company, and your community. Every state has different laws, and unfortunately, you must be prepared to initiate, or be dragged into, a lawsuit.
- If things are not rectified to your satisfaction, report the property management company to real estate associations and to the Better Business Bureau so that other owners do not fall prey to the same substandard service.
- Repair your relationships with the HOA and others living in the area so that when you do return you and your family are in good standing with them.
Your second home should be a source of happiness, not a drain on it, and property management solutions can mean the difference between the two. Yes, it may be a hassle to fire a delinquent company and find another, in the long run it is a small price to pay to ensure a positive experience for you and your family.