How to invest in real estate from long distance – Part 2, Property management is a customer service job

If you don’t know how to treat tenants they will teach you how to treat them.

This is something I have experienced in dealing with multiple tenants who always have issues and aren’t the best at presenting those issues.

Every single month, at the end of the month I know I will get repair requests as people seek to offset their rent or put a dent in our pocket. For the most part we have allocated these into our budget but sometimes we have a heavier repair like a roof repair or a furnace issue. The repairs are usually nothing more than a few hundred bucks here or there.

One particular tenant likes to accumulate a bunch of items and then throw them all at us at the same time. She will get quiet for a while and then send a long text with multiple things to repair. There is now way that all of these occurred simultaneously.

The crazy part is that even though she pays the rent late every month, when the text for repairs comes in she wants those repairs done promptly.

A few months ago we had a repair issue and I gradually took care of the problem. Apparently this wasn’t sufficient for her so she contacted the state to get money for the repair. The state then called me and proceeded to have words with me acting as though we had neglected the property and created an “unsafe” environment for her kids.

After that call I immediately got someone out there to handle it the same day, brushing off the many other tasks on my plate. When tenants say jump sometimes you have to ask how high.

This was a hard lesson to learn. I had to humble myself in the face of a low income, low paying, late paying tenant and do right even though they do wrong. They do wrong in paying rent late and for paying late without paying the late fee. They do wrong by making it difficult to access the property. They do wrong by moving in people who aren’t on the lease. They do wrong by loading up repairs to the point that it is tough to handle and then launching them at us in bulk.

Despite all of these things you still have to be the proper landlord and do right. I learned that there is a reason why WE own the property and they are renters. We don’t see a bunch of repairs and complain about how hard it is, we chop the wood and get it done promptly.

I had to humble myself in the face of the tenant because I was focused on the prize of rental property ownership. I had to learn to serve the tenant, to show concern for their situation, to get moving on their problems rapidly.

It can be difficult to have a tenant, someone who you believe is not on your level as the landlord to talk to you as if you work for them or as if you serve them but in the role of the manager you do. The best thing you can do is give them white glove, five star customer service. This reflects on your brand and it also prevents the authorities from coming out looking for problems.

If you are in the property management business, if you self manage, if you keep the fact that you are the owner of the building a secret, you must humble yourself and work FOR the tenant. It sucks but the pros outweigh the cons. The long game is well worth it.

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Thanks for reading!

Be great, invest well,

Todd Millionaire


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