There have been an unusually high number of complaints from our clients over the last few months, and I am not taking it lightly. Tenants mostly are mostly upset about the handling of their security deposit and how those determinations are made. Despite our best efforts to minimize the conflicts by bringing in a 3rd party to make the evaluations about what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law, the tenants often don’t agree. On the other side of the equation is the property owner, who if they had it their way, would charge for all damage and not allow for any “normal wear and tear.
This situation puts us in the middle of an uncomfortable situation to say the least. As the property manager, both the property owner and tenants look to us to be responsible. However, unlike other management companies we don’t do the maintenance ourselves, thereby justifying the withholding of the deposit as a profit center for our business. Our model has always been to tell the owners that we don’t profit from the repairs so that you can trust us when the tenants call in and say “the sink is broken” that its not about us trying to find another revenue stream from the owners. Rather we say “OK, let us find a 3rd party quote, and pass on the actual cost to you” which is backed up by uploading the actual invoice paid. This way of doing business seems to appeal to the property owners because they don’t have to question why we recommend a repair or improvement.
But what happens when a tenant moves out and the house isn’t clean enough for the next tenant to be able to move in and not start off on the wrong foot complaining about dirty appliances, bathtubs, windows, etc. We are forced to make the determination that the property was cleaned before Tenant A moves in, so it should be done before Tenant B moves in as well. The question is who is going to pay for it?It is the cause of a lot of stress to the tenants (whose money it is), the property owners (whose house it is), and VSM (who is in the middle of it all).
We continue to strive to refine our processes to eliminate conflicts between us and our clients. We have no motivation to over charge tenants, because we don’t profit from the work in any way. We have no motivation to side with the tenants and return all of the deposit so that the owner is upset that their home is deteriorating and they feel we aren’t representing them. We have a duty to both the vacating tenant, as well as the entering tenant. We have the unenviable position of being the liason between warring interests and both sides feeling that we should be doing more for them.
If there are suggestions for improvement to the process, I am all ears. I very much desire to have a smooth transition from tenant to tenant that doesn’t involve any parties feeling like they were wronged. The more that we can do to demonstrate that we are in fact the neutral arbitrators the better. I remain very passionately involved in the growth of VSM Real Estate, and I take every issue very personally. None more than complaints, which most often stem from property condition and who pays for it.
Thanks for letting me vent !