We recently had a rental property maintenance situation that made me recognize how much a good property management company, like Chesapeake Property Management, can save their landlords lots of money.
The Rental Property Maintenance Situation
A tenant contacted us with a plumbing repair maintenance request - water was leaking into the hallway from the utility closet, probably from the air conditioner. Juli Stein, one of our property managers, called the repair in to the landlord's warranty company so that they could send out a plumber. We considered this to be an urgent repair.
Beware of Generalized Rental Property Service Warranties
Some of our landlords have service policies (like BGE Home) for their major systems while some of our landlords have more generalized warranties (AHS, HMS, etc.). The generalized warranties sound really good. For a few hundred dollars per year, every repair is covered! Sounds too good to be true, right? That is because it is.
As we explain in Who Is Doing the Repairs on Your Rental Property,
"Home warranty companies such as AHS are just middlemen.They don't do their own work and, therefore, cannot control the result. AHS hires vendors that will complete the repair work for the least amount of money. These vendors are not employees of AHS and are not vetted. In our experience, they often complete sub-par work, are not reliable and, frankly, do not provide good customer service.
We spend so much time pacifying tenants because these vendors don't show up, don't repair what they're supposed to repair the first time and don't answer their phones. The last thing we want are unhappy tenants. Not only is it a violation of the lease to have non-working appliances in need of repairs, but unhappy tenants usually threaten to withhold rent and spread the word to their friends and through social media channels that we and the landlord are unresponsive. That is not a good situation for anyone and one that can be completely avoided.
We have no proof that these vendors are licensed and insured. We do not know who these vendors are and suddenly, they have access to our tenants and our properties. This makes us uncomfortable as we want to know who is servicing our properties and be certain that they are the best in their field."
We have strong opinions on these warranty companies and this story just confirms it.
Back to our story?so the warranty company sends out a plumber and the plumber tells us that a large pipe needs to be replaced and it will be a $5000 repair to the landlord, is urgent and, of course, it is not covered by the warranty.
$5000 Plumbing Repair or $500? A Good Property Manager Asks Lots of Good Questions.
Juli, having been with us for over 4 years and having managed a electrical contractor's company for 10 years prior to that, just did not feel good about this estimate. See, Juli is not just a paper pusher. Juli really cares about our clients and truly lives by the motto - taking care of each home as if it were her own.
So Juli used her intuition and asked a lot of questions and she was not getting the answers that made her comfortable moving forward. So she called a plumber that we have vetted and used numerous times and who is locally based in Anne Arundel County and asked him to do us a favor: would you go out and take a look at this leak? Oh, and it is urgent, so could you get out there today?? After 17 years in the property management business, we have built up numerous relationships in the areas that we serve and, every now and then, we can call in some favors. We take care of our contractors and hope, that in rare emergencies, they can take care of us.
So our vetted plumber went out to the property and told us that the repair would cost the landlord $500, not $5000. In his opinion, it was a different repair that needed to be done and, thus, the lower cost. Wow, that is a huge difference.
After speaking with the landlord, Juli hired the second plumber who went out quickly and fixed the issue correctly... the first time.
Result - the tenant was happy because the repair was fixed correctly the first time in a timely and accurate fashion. The landlord was happy because the repair was $500 instead of $5000. And Juli was happy because she knew that, not only did the landlord save money but it was the right repair.
We are not looking to band aid and skirt around repairs. If it is truly a $5000 repair and we feel confident in the assessment, we are not afraid of communicating that to our landlords. However, when we know in our gut that the assessment is just not right or that we have some unanswered questions, we use our expertise and experience to get to the root of the problem, assess the situation honestly and efficiently and save our clients some money.
A Good Property Manager Asks Questions To Save You Money
Moral of the story - who are the property managers making financial decisions on your behalf? What is the experience level and qualifications of your actual property manager who has the authority to spend money on your behalf? In most companies, there is lots of turn over in the property management position. So if an estimate comes in from a contractor and the property manager has many other repairs on her desk, she is just going to push it through. Have to check it off the list and get it done.
A Good Property Manager Cares About Your Home While Caring For It.
At Chesapeake Property Management, we truly care about you and your investment. We are hands-on owners and we hire the best people possible for our team. Our property managers are experienced and have long histories in the repair business. It is their expertise, honesty and caring that is in line with our philosophy and sets us apart from our competition.
Remember, property management is not a regulated industry so there is quite a wide range of philosophies and expertise. It is easy to assume that all property managers are the same and, therefore, you should just shop on price. But honesty, caring and expertise are priceless and can truly save you thousands and thousands of dollars down the line. Are we perfect? No. But we care. Truly care. About your home, your family and your real estate goals.