When property management goes bad

Steve Boudreault
Steve Boudreault | 2 min. read

Published on March 13, 2013

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy are found guilty of assassinating the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council and are sent to the penal colony known as Rura Penthe. Upon arrival, the administrator of the facility informs the arriving prisoners, “Work well, and you will be treated well. Work badly, and you will die.”

This sentiment, paraphrased and without the threat of death, is a guiding principle of property management. If tenants behave themselves and follow the rules, the property manager can make their tenancy a pleasant one. If not, things can get ugly very fast.

There was a situation recently at a property in Virginia where the residents came close to rioting because of what they perceived to be shoddy property management. Management, for their part, claimed that the residents were disrespectful, slovenly, and constantly flouting the rules.

So as a property manager, what do you do when a situation turns ugly? You’ve all got to live with one another, right? If you say it’s them and they say it’s you, how do you come to an amicable resolution? Here are a few tips.

Document everything. If residents are accusing you of not performing your property management duties, be sure to have written documentation that states that you have been. And if, for example, residents are complaining about things not being repaired, photographic evidence of before and after can go a long way.

Isolate the problem. It’s very rare that an entire property rises up as one against management. Oftentimes it’s a single agitator, rallying other residents to the cause by pointing out minor issues and making mountains out of molehills. If there’s general grumbling, talk to your residents and see if you can trace the problem back to one or two malcontents.

Arrange town meetings. Gathering everyone together in an open forum is a great way to establish a dialogue, hear residents’ complaints, and keep everyone up to date on what’s being done and what will be done to fix things. Be sure to keep the reins tight, though. Meetings like these can easily degenerate into shouting matches if you’re not careful.

Property managers and residents live in an eternal state of careful balance. As long as everyone feels that their voices are heard and respected, that balance is maintained and everyone can live in harmony.

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Steve Boudreault

Steve has more than 15 years of experience in copywriting and editing for brands big and small. He's based in Boston.

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