Inside T&H: Taking Over Management of an Occupied Home
Now that you are a Client of ours, how we initially proceed is dependent on the occupancy status of the home.
Prior to 2017, almost all the homes we placed under our management were vacant. Occasionally, we picked up occupied homes, but not often.
However, that’s all changed.
Now, a significant portion of homes we take on are occupied… generally from other management companies in Central Indiana.
As a result, we’ve created detailed processes on the proper way to onboard an occupied property.
Bottom line: We’re pretty good at it.
So, let’s spend a little time reviewing how we take over an occupied property, because it’s a much different scenario than a vacant one.
First, upon assuming management of the home, we will provide a checklist of items we need. You, as the Owner of the property may have some of this information, but generally we’re getting this data from the exiting management company.
And the reality is that some PM companies aren’t overly cooperative when they are losing business. We work hard to get what we need, but sometimes we may need you to nudge a bit as well.
And as I’m sure you can appreciate, getting the proper documentation is ESSENTIAL to effectively managing your Tenant.
The items we need include:
1) Lease/Contact information for Tenants – ideally, this is all available in an electronic format. Not only do we need the actual Lease, but all occupant names, phone numbers and email addresses.
2) Security Deposit – if you collected the Tenant’s deposit, we want you to make a contribution to your account for that amount. As a rule, we do not allow our Clients to hold security deposits. If your management company has the deposit, we ask that you instruct the management company to forward those funds to us.
Some management companies won’t cooperate and will only send you the deposit. In that case, you can simply forward us the funds once you receive them.
3) Copies of all keys – we need a minimum of 2 keys for each individually keyed lock in the home. Do not forget about any screen door locks. You can mail those to us (please double wrap) or drop them by our Office if that’s feasible. If you, or the surrendering management company, do not have keys, we will do our best to obtain them from the Tenant. Worst case, we will employ a locksmith to make copies.
For many reasons, it’s critical that we have copies of your keys for site visits, maintenance and during emergency situations where we need immediate access to the home.
4) Tenant Documentation – this includes any application you may have, Tenant ledgers, along with any Move-In forms/photos that document the condition of the property. Again, this is ideally handled electronically from either you or your previous management company.
Once we start receiving information, our Office staff will go to work on a number of issues concerning your Tenant.
Some of these tasks include:
- Set-up the Tenant’s Lease in our system.
- Review current Lease in detail and notate in our system any major Lease differences from ours.
Note: Just because there’s a change in management doesn’t mean we can automatically require the Tenant to conform to our Lease terms. Unless a Tenant agrees to sign our Lease, we are required to follow the terms set-out in the previous PM’s Lease.
- Review the Tenant Ledger in detail to ensure all payments are current.
- Reach out to Tenants via email, mail and phone to introduce ourselves. It’s important that we make contact with the Tenant so they understand where to direct future payments and maintenance issues.
- Provide the Tenant some training on the Tenant Portal.
- Introduce our Customer Service Manager, who will serve as the Tenant’s main contact.
Note: Often, some of the documentation we require isn’t available. For example, we’re continually stunned that most management companies do not have a Move-In Condition report on file for a Tenant. If data is missing, we’ll simply have to move forward with what we have.
In the meantime, your assigned Property Manager on our staff will schedule a site visit to the property. We generally like to schedule this visit within 30 days of assuming management.
During the site visit, the PM will produce an Onboarding Report with dozens of pictures and note condition issues or lease violations if they exist. We may offer other suggestions that we feel are appropriate to maintain and/or protect your asset.
We will obviously provide you a copy of this report that you can access at any time.
Note: We are not licensed home inspectors. Our PMs will only point out obvious issues that need attention – meaning, we don’t go into crawl spaces, attics, etc. We assume, and hope, that you had a full house inspection prior to purchasing the property. If possible, we would love a copy of that inspection report for our files.
Also keep in mind that during the course of onboarding the new Tenant, we will likely receive a laundry list of maintenance issues that need addressed. Repeated messages we hear go something like this…
“I reported this to my old property manager and they refused to fix it.”
“I’ve called my management company a dozen times and no one calls me back.”
Keep in mind that we only react to true maintenance issues. In most cases, we do find deferred maintenance that genuinely does need attention – most of which are the result of poor management or failure on the Tenant’s part to report problems.
Once everything is settled from the site business, it’s a “business as usual” scenario for us… doing our best to take great care of both your property and your Tenant.