In property management, horror stories are not what you want to be a part of, and yet, anyone with any experience can tell you a few.
Edgar Allan Poe was a master of horror stories. From the first lines of The Tell-Tale Heart, you’re in a state of suspense. Poe draws us into his world of the macabre with the deftness only few storytellers can muster.
TRUE! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them.
Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story. – Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart
Fortunately, your property management horror stories (hopefully) aren’t as frightening as Poe’s.
I can only imagine how his landlord must have felt about having a heart buried under the floorboards!
We asked around, and found that, with time, some of these horror stories turn into just that – stories. Some, however, teach us that working as a property manager is not without the occasional lesson or two.
Property management horror stories that will make you feel better about your own
Whose home is this, anyway?
Two stories from the state of California should serve as a warning if you are considering short-term rental opportunities in your condo community. Owners in Santa Cruz and in Palm Springs rented out rooms through Airbnb only to end up with tenants who wouldn’t leave.
For several months, these squatters would neither leave, nor pay additional rent. Because California laws are designed to protect renters, the squatters couldn’t be evicted, either, without a lengthy legal process. Fortunately for the owners, the visitors left after a few months, however, both owners racked up thousands of dollars in expenses.
You didn’t need that, did you?
You wouldn’t think much could happen to a condo building that wasn’t fully constructed, much less occupied. You would be wrong. Elton Riley, of 911 Restoration, was called to assess extensive water damage at some unfinished residences in a new complex.
“When the water company came out to install a meter, they got debris in the regulator line but then sealed it up anyway. This caused a backup which burst 30 water heaters and ruined a huge number of apartments.”
He seemed so nice!
Even the most experienced property managers have horror stories. A Washington D.C. property manager, with an advanced degree in Real Estate was taken for a damaging ride by a true con artist.
“Janet” manages several properties, including condo communities and some private rentals. In a rush to lease a home for one client, Janet accepted the tenant’s copy of his credit report without running it herself. She realized her mistake when the first, then second check bounced. For two months, she attempted to evict the tenant, finally scheduling a court date. When Janet and the property owner arrived in court, she received a message from the tenant: “I’ve moved out. You’ll never find me.”
On his way out, the tenant did thousands of dollars of damage to the luxury apartment, and damaged Janet’s reputation as a property manager, as well. She now uses a transparent online screening process, and hasn’t had to evict anyone since.
What is this “rent” you speak of?
Many property managers work for both condo associations and for landlords, and are probably all too aware that some tenants are just bad news. Some of those tenants are even worse.
In British Columbia, Susan and Chris Perret owe nearly $40,000 to seven landlords for rent, court fees, broken leases, and cleaning fees. In Toronto, Nina Willis is alleged to owe more than $7,000 to one landlord. That doesn’t count the landlords who have taken her to court over the last ten years.
What’s the lesson for property managers? If your condo owners are renting out their spaces, get involved and be sure to run credit checks. Although situations as bad as these two are rare, your condo community could suffer serious financial damages if you have two or three units falling behind on dues and mortgage payments.
No one’s home.
Not all property management horror stories come from bad tenants or short term condo rentals. In Toronto, the overall trend in condo vacancies is rising, and has been for the last decade. I don’t need to tell you what this means for property managers who are attempting to keep condo communities fiscally sound. Frightening, indeed!
You have insurance for that, right?
If your property is in Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, you may have a tough time getting it insured. Property managers are finding their condo owner communities are unable to get insurance for their homes. Poorly constructed condos in these cities – or anywhere – are ripe for water damage and other problems, leaving insurance companies the option of raising premiums to a ridiculous degree or refusing to offer insurance at all for some properties.
The new Ontario Condominium Act will help alleviate some of these problems by putting owner-friendly regulations in place. Until then, property managers and condo owners may be in a scary spot.
We can’t guarantee that you won’t have a horror story of your own, but we can guarantee that Evercondo can help you keep better tabs on your condo properties. Evercondo facilitates quick and useful communication between condominium property managers, the condo association board, and condo residents. We also enhance the condo experience for residents and managers alike. Contact us for a demonstration, and we’ll show you how we can keep your condo properties running smoothly.
Are you a condo property manager? Share your horror stories with us in the comments!