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Residential Property Management/Out of state owner vrs Property management

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Question
Having problems with my out of state home, the word is the refrigerator is not working and the renters can not get  a response from the management. The management said there has been no complaints, they sent someone to check the refrigerator and is working fine. The renters say, no one has checked the refrigerator and it is not working fine.
Do I have a right to talk to the renters since I now doubt the honesty of the management co.

Answer
Hello!  I've been in both the position of lessee and agent-for-owner.  I've also recently left real-estate after 25 years in management, sales and leasing of both commercial and residential properties.  It's fair to say that I've seen all sides of this coin.

The management company, or agent-for-owner, is given authority to act for the owner in the owner's absence, which may be always if the property is an investment.  However, that usually only extends so far. A manager may need to get approval for a large capital expenditure, such as for appliances or new heating/air-conditioning system, from the owner.  I was often on the phone tracking down an owner in Europe when I once had a roof leak in an office building because I couldn't just replace a 20,000 square-foot roof without getting the OK to spend that much money.  For other smaller, day-to-day things in his several properties, I was able to use my own discretion. Did the city want garbage moved from next to the dumpster? Did the parking lot need to be plowed when it snowed? Did a light in the parking lot need to be replaced because of damage? Did a wall need to be painted before a tenant moved in?

All that being said, I'm wondering how the tenant got to you--usually the management company is the go-between.  That's why you pay them. The last owner I worked with had formerly managed the properties himself and had just retired when I began working for him, so his tenants knew him.  When I worked in large office buildings in a major US city, nobody had any idea who actually owned the building unless they knew about the partnership which owned almost 100% of the handful of buildings in which I supervised staff.  It sounds like you've put your trust in a management company who doesn't appear to be responsive to you or your tenant.  This could be a problem for you if the lease stipulates you'll provide appliances in good working order; because the lease is a contract, you have to supply them.  If there is no working refrigerator, you may be the one violating the lease and you shouldn't be surprised if the tenant moves out.

I'd ask the management company for the property's service records, as far back as they have them.  Place that service call with the management company yourself.  If nobody shows, place the call again. Keep records of when you call.  Check your agreement with the management company. Nonperformance of contract could be your reason for finding a new management company--with absolutely no guilt.

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not an attorney and the above opinion is based on my professional experience in real estate. It shall not constitute legal advice.  (A real-estate agent will never dispense legal advice--that's practicing law without a license to do so.) If you believe you have a legal matter on your hands, it would be best to seek the opinion of someone who is familiar with landlord-tenant law in the jurisdiction where the property is located.

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Adam L. Greenberg CPS

Expertise

I have several years of experience in commercial property management, particularly in tenant retention but also in day-to-day tenant relations and service. Tenant relations and property management are the same whether residential or commercial--everyone takes he same licensing classes. It's the practical work experience that differentiates the two. I can answer questions relating to general topics but by law, because I was formerly licensed as a Real Estate Salesperson by The Missouri Real Estate Commission (2005-2014), I cannot give legal advice and as per Items #4 and #5 of the AllExperts User Agreement, and my answers may not be construed as such.

Experience

I began my career in property management with the residence hall operations at a large state university. I worked with everything that had to do with the tenants (students), from directly managing front desk operations to working behind-the-scenes with support staff. Professionally, for over six years, I was a member of a property management team which managed dozens of commercial and residential properties in Downtown Washington, DC; Arlington, Virginia; and Bethesda, Maryland. I also have an additional ten years of experience as a management agent for an absentee owner in Saint Louis, Missouri. I retired early in 2014 and I now live in Florida, which has provided me the experience of interaction with Homeowners' Associations (HOAs). Some of my Answers have reflected this experience.

Organizations
Former member, Washington Area Concierge Association (WACA), Washington, DC Former member, St. Louis Association of REALTORS.

Education/Credentials
BA Speech Communication, University of Maryland, 1993 Graduate of American School of Real Estate, St. Louis, Missouri, 2005 Certified Property Management Specialist (CPS), 2010 Successful completion of Continuing Education courses in Ethics, Diversity

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