There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to go for it. I’m a landlord–a “property manager” if you will. I’m the one who you have to tell three separate times that your shower isn’t draining properly. I’m the one who smiles and tells you, “Sorry, rent was due on the first.” I’m the one who puts a violation notice on your car for parking in the wrong spot, even though the only reason you had to park there was because someone else was in your spot. I’m a young guy with a degree who is navigating the world of middle-aged women with high school diplomas.
Two months ago, I was hired by a real estate developer to crunch market statistics, familiarize myself with the local players, and scout out potential multi-family complexes for the company to purchase in a rapidly expanding market. My day-to-day tasks include managing the apartment complex my company owns in that market. The property management component was totally new for me. When I started, this was a job that I was simultaneously overqualified for and had zero experience in, but in two months I feel like I’ve learned enough to last a lifetime.
As a new addition to the property manager ranks, I feel I need to impart some wisdom on the lot of you in order to make both of our lives a lot easier. Some of this is just common sense, and some might not even apply to your situation, but all of it can make the next year of your life run infinitely more smoothly.
1. You Are Not A Special Snowflake
When there are 300 or more people living in 200 or more apartments who all move in within two months of each other and I have three maintenance men on my staff, inevitably there is going to be a backlog when it comes to unclogging your toilet or getting you a new lightbulb. Neither your tone nor the amount of times you tell me about your apartment’s issue will get it resolved any faster than anyone else’s. You might have been able to whine to your parents enough to get your way, but that shit isn’t going to fly here.
2. It’s A Business
I’m sure you would have loved a bigger fitness center, granite countertops, a rooftop pool, or whatever the new amenity fad of the year is, but I can guarantee that you don’t want to pay for it. HGTV tells you that your home should be a reflection of your personality or some shit, but your rental apartment is a reflection of hardline cost-benefit analysis on behalf of the owner. If some upgrade will increase rents enough for it to pay for itself, the owner will do it without blinking. If it hasn’t been done, the market either can’t support it or doesn’t require it.
3. Don’t Point Out The Obvious
Yesterday, I had a tenant inform me, in all seriousness and quite rudely on top of it, that the Dumpster smelled “like shit.” The stunning revelation that day-old trash doesn’t give off the best aroma would have been incredibly helpful if it wasn’t mind-numbingly obvious. If a light is out in the lobby, we know about it. If the air conditioning is malfunctioning and it’s 90 degrees and I have sweat running down my forehead, we know about it. If the garbage smells like garbage, trust me–we know.
4. Don’t Cause Problems
There is something inherently amusing about someone who makes my life difficult but expects me to make his or hers easier. There are always those tenants who throw their trash in the hallways, park in the middle of two spots, steal stuff from the lobby, are rude to the staff for no reason, and then demand solutions to their personal issues immediately. Luckily for you assholes, there are laws against prioritizing tenants, but don’t expect anything extra if you can’t even be cordial to me or to your neighbors.
5. Grow Up
I don’t want to speak to your parents. I don’t want to be yelled at by your parents. I don’t want to be forced to interact with an entire family when your name is on the lease. If your dad is a cosigner or your mom is overbearing, that’s your personal struggle, not mine. This is especially embarrassing if you are my age, as a lot of my tenants are, and you expect me to make your experience seamless but you can’t even talk to me about rent payment or a maintenance request without Mommy’s help.
6. Don’t Lie
The amount of actual scumbags I have dealt with is refreshingly low, as they don’t fit the profile of my typical clientele, but don’t come to me and tell me your roommate is okay with something when you never checked with her. Don’t tell me you weren’t blasting music at 3 a.m. when my maintenance guys had to come out and respond to your neighbors’ noise complaints. Don’t tell me I agreed to a rent concession when I never did. This is such an obvious way to fall onto a landlord’s shit list, and even if your landlord doesn’t call you out when you get caught, he or she always knows.
7. Don’t Think You’re An Expert
Maybe it’s because I have a lot of law students as tenants, but don’t ever think you know what your lease says better than I do. While you may have looked over your copy, I’ve had a team of top notch lawyers with more than 100 years of combined experience hammer out every punctuation mark. I’ve negotiated million dollar deals with internationally known corporations. At the very least, I’ve read over a couple hundred different copies of the exact same lease. You’re not going to find a loophole that says you don’t owe rent. Also, you’re not a bug expert, mold expert, plumber, electrician, or maintenance tech, either.
8. Learn How To Recognize Real Problems Early On
This isn’t to say that some property managers aren’t lazy or stupid, that some owners aren’t slumlords, and that some tenants are genuinely getting screwed over on a regular basis. That could even be the usual for all I know, but ultimately it’s on you to figure that out before you sign the lease. If your roommate sucks, your landlord sucks, your building sucks, your neighborhood sucks, or anything else fails horribly, there’s a very good chance it wasn’t perfectly masked before you forked over your deposit. Your roommate was probably always a flake, your landlord either took forever to get back to you or wasn’t very accommodating from the beginning, the building and room probably showed clear signs of problems, and the neighborhood didn’t go to hell overnight. Read some reviews, check out the location, ask to see other units, talk to any current residents you see, and make a smart decision. When you sign a lease, you’re signing a contract to hand over $10,000 to $30,000 a year with very few ways out if you make a bad decision.
9. Pay Your Rent On Time
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this. I would love it if you didn’t act entitled. I would be so happy if you interacted with me in a friendly manner. Not having you or your mommy lie to my face is a huge plus, too, but this is the only one that is going to get you in actual trouble. If you don’t pay your rent, you’re going to get fined, sent to collections, and evicted. It’s not pretty, and I don’t even like doing it to the meanest people. If you have a money problem, work something out. If your landlord can’t work with you, you should have picked a different place to live.