Do I really need a property manager?
Clients often ask me whether they really need a property manager. I totally understand where they’re coming from. They’ve made a huge investment. They now have a monthly income, but it is constantly cut into. They have buildings insurance, often a mortgage, maintenance costs and now a property manager. They imagine that the tenants will pay their rent regularly on time (usually true) and the property manager will be paid for doing nothing. So, do they really need a property manager.
What is that I offer that makes the answer, yes?
The simple answer is a case that happened just yesterday.
Early in the morning, I received a panicked call from ground floor tenants. Sewage was coming out from the toilets and was flowing throughout the apartment.
It wasn’t their sewage. It was from their neighbours. There was obviously a blockage in the building sewage pipe and whenever the neighbours used the facilities, more sewage flowed into the apartment.
They sent me pictures. It was horrible.
I dropped everything I was planning for that day, jumped in the car and drove straight to Jerusalem. Simultaneously, I sent the pictures to my plumber and called him. He confirmed what I thought. The outside sewage pipe that belonged to the building was blocked. Therefore, the issue was Vaad Bayit issue, not the apartment’s issue.
That often makes things harder. If it was an apartment issue, I would give the plumber an immediate instruction to fix it, and I would then pass it along to my client, the landlord. But I couldn’t do that in this case. Firstly, my client was not financially responsible for fixing it and secondly, I cannot legally work on the building. Should anything go wrong, should the problem be worse than expected, should my worker make things, I would be responsible.
But this was an emergency, and the tenants needed an immediate fix. I couldn’t let this drag out.
I immediately called the chairman of the Vaad Bayit. He was already at work. I explained the situation and sent him the pictures. He started complaining that he had already fixed the sewer a few times and that it’s because we throw junk down the toilets. I explained in no uncertain terms that my tenants were suffering and that they needed an immediate solution. It was his duty to come and see what was going on and make a decision or allow me to make it for him.
He agreed to meet there 40 minutes later. I arranged for my plumber to join us.
The plumber and I arrived on time. We saw the tenants sweeping sewage out from the apartment into a nearby drain. The Vaad Bayait chairman was nowhere to be find. I called, texted and cajoled. He finally came. He saw the problem with his own eyes. He argued about who was responsible, but the weight of evidence was against him. He asked my plumber how much it would cost to fix. My plumber was non-committal about the price. He was unsure as to how bad the problem was inside the pipes. The concrete pipes were crumbling, the building was old and a tree was growing over the pipes, whose roots could be moving and cracking the pipe.
I explained to the chairman that I had worked with this plumber for many years and that he was honest, however he would not accept it. I told him that if that was the case, he needed to bring his own worker in and to sort it out.
He agreed and called his plumber. He of course was not readily available. He promised to come within two hours. He eventually came after four hours – yes we did call him many times. He actually worked well and fixed the issue in a couple of hours.
I don’t know how much he charged as he billed the Vaad Bayit directly, but I wasn’t interested in that. The emergency was resolved quickly (I received the call at 8.00 am and it was resolved by 4.00 pm) and with no cost to my client.
I reported the incident to my client in a short email.
So, what does the property manager do? He handles all the stress. He’s the tenants’ first port of call. He drops everything he’s doing. He calls the professionals. He handles the workmen. He negotiates with the Vaad Bayit. He makes sure the work gets done, and he’s there all day until it’s completed satisfactorily.
If you can do all that from long distance, then you don’t need a property manager. But if you can’t, I’m here for you.