We have all seen the show “Undercover Boss”.  There have been two instances over the past year that I have placed myself in the Temp world as an “undercover temp”.

What is it really like to be a temp in a property management department?

Easy you think …. you just come in, do your job, leave at the end of the contract and get paid well.

You are greatly mistaken.

When I first put the feelers out about entering Real Strategix into the recruitment world although I have personally over 15 years’ experience in all aspects of Property Management, trust accounting and consulting, I thought; there is no way I can make my new business venture work unless I “Live it myself.”

It was hard for me to take my consultant hat off and put my “temp” hat on.  What that means is “just do the job Lauren the best way you know how but do not tell them there is a better way as a consultant would”.

The first particular office did not know my background and had just heard through the grapevine that I might be interested in temp work– perfect timing.

My job was doing the lease renewals for three large portfolios which was a full time 4-week position.  During that time, I was seated in an office off to the side where no one really checked on me. I was basically forgotten about.

It was by no means welcoming.

I would hear from reception:

“Who is Lauren?”

“Does anyone know a Lauren?”

To which the office would fill with yells; yes “yells”,

“Nope. Sorry!”

Receptionist would reply,

“Sorry Mr Smith, We don’t have a Lauren that works here.”

It was about now I had to go and introduce myself to Reception.

  • Who hired me? Who was paying me? Where was my induction?  I didn’t even know where the toilets were, the emergency exits or who I was reporting to.
  • Did I have a password? Was I a registered user of the trust accounting software so my “temp” role and notes could be tracked?
  • Did I have a timesheet or could I just leave at the end of the day?
  • Who were the people whose names were on the portfolio that I was doing lease renewals for?
  • Is there a system in place which they want me to follow? Or do I just send the lease with a notice to leave? Do I always do a CMA? Oh… do they use RP Data for this?
  • Who is this horrible woman eyeballing me from across the room? Oh… that is the Property Manager whom I have had to tell the Principal has not actioned lease renewals for the past 4 months and has 130 properties on periodic leases.

This particular role was not stressful just the abuse from the owners wondering why their tenant had not been on a lease for 12 months.

Luckily in this instance I was able to secretly put my consulting hat on and take a very unhappy owner and within 4 days his new lease was returned with a substantial rent increase and he became my best friend.

During my time in this office two people out of 30 introduced themselves to me. After 3 weeks, I was still hidden away and by this stage everyone knew who I was as I had introduced myself and my role.

This is the hardest job of a temp. They are brought into an unfamiliar office for sometimes as short as a week or two as the Property Manager has just walked out. And if that particular Property Manager did not leave notes – all they have to go on is Email searches which are sometimes like reading Nancy Drew novels.

We all know there are good PM’s. I loathe the term “bad” PM’s. Instead, I refer to those as “PMs’ who struggled with the workload”.  But you must realise how difficult it is to have a temp come into your office and pick up the pieces.  I call them Temp Private Investigators.

Don’t get me wrong we have gone to many offices that are what I call “WGT “(We Got This). These are the ones that have the computer passwords set up, the introductions sorted, a list of things to do and the friendly “Thank you Mrs. Temp for coming in and helping us out” attitude.

Please be nice to temps. I know you must show them around and they will be asking you questions about procedures and systems but they are there to help make your life that little bit easier.

And trying to get you to stop at just “one glass” of wine instead of a “bottle” a night.

Undercover temp, over and out……

 

Lauren Kropp

Director Real Strategix


The main reason that I am called to consult in management rights offices is organisation.  You have just completed your RLA course and purchased your management rights…..how hard can it be?

Whether you run a holiday resort or permanent complex, have 15 or 80 in your letting pool your work load will increase if you do not have an organised work place.

Many years ago we would have been able to run an office without a computer but these days due to the severity of fines from legislation requirements we are thankful to have the use of computers.  The first step in organisation is obtaining software that is easy to use.  Over the period of a year most subscription based software companies will charge in excess of $1000.  This may seem like a lot but for what you receive in return it is well worth it.  It is also tax deductable. There is no point in paying the subscription without the correct training and correct training leads to utilising the software to its maximum potential.  You may think that your simple to use trust accounting software is just there to receipt and perform your end of month…..this is not the case.  Most programs assist you with your maintenance, arrears, RTA forms, booking confirmations, and also have the ability to merge all tenant/guest and owner information to your letters that are on your computer.

Which leads me to the second item that will help you with organisation.  Your office system… obtaining or creating your own letters and forms that you can use on a day to day basis.  You may be lucky enough to purchase Management Rights with an extremely helpful outgoing manager that may have left behind their letters for you to use…..for many though this is not the case.

Property Management will throw twists and turns at you on a daily basis and a lot of the time it is the administration tasks that are the toughest.  You are beginning end of month process on your computer while you have the tenant from unit 1 on the phone complaining about the tenant in unit 2 and in front of you is a prospective tenant/guest who wants to register their details.  If you are an organised office you will have a ‘complaint register’ form which can easily be emailed to the tenant of unit 1 to complete, whilst on the phone you can turn around and hand the prospective tenant a ‘seeking property’ form to complete which leaves you to carry on with your end of month.

Having the tenant/guest complete these forms helps you in two ways…..1) the information is in writing for future reference and 2) your time is precious and you can deal with the required action once you have prioritised it.

If you do not have the time to write or create the required forms or letters yourself there are industry professionals such as Real Strategix that will provide these for you for a small amount of money which again is tax deductable.

Item 3 – Everything has a place.  I do not mean sticky notes have a place all over the desk and up the wall.  “I know I wrote it down on a sticky note” and you look up and you see your desk and side of your computer screen covered in sticky notes.

My advice is to have two desk trays.  One is your ‘in tray’ for work that needs to be completed and the other is for important documents that you need to get your hands on quickly.  (i.e. – tariffs, by laws etc.).   EVERYTHING else needs to be in your filing cabinet in labelled suspension files or ring binders.  It is time to write that RTA bond cheque and now you need to attach the bond lodgement forms….where are they?  Rather that search the property files for them or the pile on your desk, once they are signed put them all in a folder labelled “bonds to be lodged”.

Once you have attended to the above three items you will notice your productivity increase, your stress levels decrease and you will have more time to spend with your loved ones.

Management Rights can be extremely daunting and you will find that it isn’t just your office in a mess and other managers feel the same.  The quicker you get systems in place the more confident you will feel.

If you would like any more information or simply need Real Strategix help with any of the above please do not hesitate to contact us.


Whether it is routine maintenance, emergency repairs, lease renewals or property vacancies, you will always have the landlord asking you to explain the necessity and costs involved.  Property Management over the last decade has become much harder, and time consuming, as legislation has changed and people are taking others to tribunal over the smallest of things.

The first lease I prepared was in 1997. It was typed on a typewriter with carbon copies, and there was no such thing as inventories, CMA’s or online bookings.  If someone had told me that in 18 years’ time (now I feel old) we would be arranging smoke alarms to be checked for every new lease I don’t think I would have believed them.

This is what owners are also having trouble understanding.  With regards to legislative items such as smoke alarm checks, blind compliance and pool certificates, the simplest way to explain your reasoning of these charges is that owners simply do not have a choice.  If an owner refuses to comply, you as a managing agent must cease management of the property or else you will be the one at tribunal. My advice is to include these in a monthly/quarterly newsletter or as a note on all owners statements along the lines of ‘’you may notice additional charges appear on your statements over the coming months for smoke alarm servicing these are legislative requirements and MUST be performed.  Please see attached information”.

Signing of a Form 6:  It still bewilders me that upon due diligences there are still agencies that do not have a signed copy of either a 20A or a Form 6 on file.  I am not talking hard copy but even just a scanned copy.  The rules are the same – without a copy signed, if the owner refuses you must immediately give the property to them to self-manage.  I will also point out the rule is quite simple – if OFT find out you are managing a property without an agreement , you have been illegally representing the owner and should not have been collecting any fees for the entire period you have acted without a signed agreement.  Therefore, you will have to refund ALL fees collected back to the landlord and face a heavy fine from the OFT.

Maintenance:   This is by far the toughest item to be agreed upon.  Although there is that lovely little section in the management agreement where the landlord indicates they agree for you to spend $500.00 or 2 weeks rent (for example) I highly doubt they will be happy when you spend $450 on general repairs that may not have been urgent but make the tenant more comfortable.  The phone call comes in and the irate landlord asks you why you repaired the curtain rod, loose toilet seat and dripping tap without their knowledge and you reply that the tenant requested it to be done.  A landlord will not find this answer acceptable.  Dealing with tenant maintenance requests that are not urgent is always difficult and each landlord will also view these maintenance items differently.

In short there are 2 types of landlords

1)      Mr & Mrs “we appreciate your looking after our home as if it is yours”

2)      Pay me the rent to pay my mortgage and that is all I care about.

Owner type 1 will appreciate that you are trying to keep the property well maintained, as well as making the tenant live as comfortably as possible so that they continue to remain great tenants and pay their rent on time and will live at their property for as long as possible.  This tenant will understand that the landlord repairs things so the $10 rent increase will be justifiable.

Owner type 2 – Not so much!  This is what we call a “tread carefully owner”.  This owner will likely threaten to take the management off you at least twice in a 2 year period.  The best way to approach this situation is to advise them that the repairs are necessary to avoid any unnecessary disputes, as tenants are very ‘legislation canny’ and to also mention that upon lease renewal we may look at increasing the rent.  Similar to above, but the mention of more income is a focus.  Beware not to promise though, due to CMA’s in the area this may not be possible when the lease is due for renewal.  You may also need to remind this owner that they signed the section above allowing you to spend $$ without notification and if they would like that to be amended you are happy to do so.  You may also like to mention that part of your job as managing agent is to maintain the property for the landlords benefit as well.

In saying that, you as the agent need to determine one thing ….is it worth it?  If the property is boutique maybe it is, but if it is $300 per week with 7% fees, it may not be worth it.  An onsite manager may view this differently, of course, as the complex is their livelihood.

Lease renewals:   “no, I don’t care if the tenants are on a lease”.  The agency cares because generally you will receive a lease renewal fee.  A rent roll valuation is favourable – fixed term leases attract more income, the structure of a fixed term tenancy makes it much easier to prepare (busy periods, lease expiries, actioning rent increases within legislation etc).  Owners need to feel that their half weeks’ lease renewal fee of $200 is warranted…what will they get for it?

1)      Financial security

2)      No insurance issues – Besides your industry insurers, AON, EBM, Terri Scheer etc some insurance companies such as banks, home insurers etc do not cover landlord insurance if tenants are on periodic leases.

3)      Rent increases can be written into leases these days so there is nothing wrong with a 12 month lease with an increase after 6 months.

Property Vacancies:   We have been lucky in QLD of late that vacancy rates are very low.  However, some owners expect you to find them a tenant a day after the other tenant vacates.  The general turnaround time should be close to a week minimum to allow the Property Manager time to perform the vacate inspection, have the tenant attend to anything they need to, plus have any maintenance carried out.  This needs to be explained to your owner by the BDM upon signing the management agreement.

The majority of the time that properties cannot rent could be due to rent being too high.  A property should not be listed prior to 4 weeks from vacate date or it will become stale.  The average person needs to give 2 weeks’ notice to vacate and will begin looking 2 weeks before this notice. The property manager/leasing consultant will perform the CMA and advise the owner of what they feel we be an achievable rent.  If an owner is insisting on a higher rent you need to advise them that you are happy to try higher for a 2 week period but if the property does not generate interest in that time they will need to look at dropping the rent.  For some reason, owners see $450 (what they want) compared to the $430 you are advising, as a massive difference in rent, but they forget that for every week the property is vacant they have lost $430….which actually negates the $20 per week increase over 21 weeks (for each empty week).

The sign up process with a tenant, and owner, is the most important thing to cease objections.  If you advise them of all your systems and procedures at the get go this will generally halt a lot of objections at a later date.  The sign ups may take longer but this will stop a lot of irate phone calls in the future.

We are here to help at Real Strategix, if you have any questions or would like some advice please contact us.


I thought that I would follow up my previous article “How to win back Lost Managements” with a strategy pointing out the advantages of an onsite manager looking after an investment property compared to a Real Estate agent doing so.

As an investment property owner myself after putting aside my Property Management and Consulting roles at the end of the day, my personal expectations of the agent managing my property are:

1)      That rent is paid on time

2)      That the property is being looked after and protected in a professional manner at all times

3)      That regular monitoring of the property and behaviour of the tenant is maintained.

The following strategies can only apply if you, the manager live & have an office on site.  If you do not unfortunately you are going to fall into the “Real Estate” category for this article.

  • A major factor working in your favour as a resident onsite manager is that the average Real Estate Property Manager has a portfolio of approximately 150 owners and properties to look after and service and spread over a number of suburbs and areas.  You, on the other hand, are able to offer a far more personal, effective and professional service as your portfolio comprise only your owners and tenants at just one location and you have control of all the common areas within that complex
  • If you hold a master key to all units in the complex you have the ability to access each unit in appropriate circumstances.
  • As an onsite manager you can monitor the behaviour and movements of all occupants in the complex and as part of your contract with the Body Corporate you can make sure that all tenants comply with Body Corporate by-laws.
  • One of your major advantages is that if you are managing units in the complex, you will invariably be attending to minor repairs yourself and be using your own tradesmen for any specialised or major repairs. This enables you to access the unit on quite a regular basis enabling you to keep the owner regularly informed as to the condition of their investment property and whether their tenant is looking after it satisfactorily. This advantage is not available to an outside agent. (Please remember to make a note of your  entry though in your trust accounting software/diary or copy of entry notice if required)
  • As part of the agreement with the Body Corporate, you have direct access to both the committee and the Body Corporate Manager. Most agents don’t even know the name of the Body Corporate Management Company or how to contact them. You therefore have the ability to promptly have any problems or misbehaviour attended to and appropriate action taken by the Body corporate, if necessary.
  • Let’s face it, any tenant is going to be much more careful about their behaviour and that of their visitors when they know you have the ability to control and decide their fate.
  • You can see who comes and goes…….With all of the trouble we have been having of late (and my trying not to discriminate)  a Real Estate Agency would not know that your 50 year old single male tenant wears a bikie ‘club’ jacket and has visitors of similar nature daily.
  • Tenants will use every excuse possible not to pay rent especially around Christmas time as they need the additional $$$$ for presents/holidays.  A Real Estate agent will not know that recently that tenant that is apparently broke bought a new car 2 weeks ago and still manages to find money to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.
  • Monitoring lease holders is a major plus for onsite managers.  In a complex when everyone lives on top of each other, people talk.  They mention to you that their neighbour Suzie (your tenant) has broken up with her boyfriend (the only one working) and she has a new flatmate…..
  • Inspections – How much time do Real Estate agents waste by driving to the property to find out that the keys do not fit, locks are changed or the unauthorised dog has bailed them up.
  • Unauthorised Pets – The majority of the time the property with an unauthorised pet is managed by a Real Estate agent simply because the Property Manager has not been told.  An Onsite Manager however cannot fail to hear the barking sound coming from unit 5.
  • Disturbing behaviour  – Whether it is tenants having guests come and go at all hours of the night, suspect drug dealing, abusive language, loud cars you will ALWAYS know who the cause of the problem is and will be able to action it immediately.

Now you are armed with all of the positive reasons and strategies to use when confronted by these questions.

If you have any more queries or need my advice on a situation please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp –Director

Real Strategix

info@realstrategix.com.au

www.realstrategix.com.au


The main reason that I am called to consult in management rights offices is organisation.  You have just completed your RLA course and purchased your management rights…..how hard can it be?

Whether you run a holiday resort or permanent complex, have 15 or 80 in your letting pool your work load will increase if you do not have an organised work place.

Many years ago we would have been able to run an office without a computer but these days due to the severity of fines from legislation requirements we are thankful to have the use of computers.  The first step in organisation is obtaining software that is easy to use.  Over the period of a year most subscription based software companies will charge in excess of $1000.  This may seem like a lot but for what you receive in return it is well worth it.  It is also tax deductable. There is no point in paying the subscription without the correct training and correct training leads to utilising the software to its maximum potential.  You may think that your simple to use trust accounting software is just there to receipt and perform your end of month…..this is not the case.  Most programs assist you with your maintenance, arrears, RTA forms, booking confirmations, and also have the ability to merge all tenant/guest and owner information to your letters that are on your computer.

Which leads me to the second item that will help you with organisation.  Your office system… obtaining or creating your own letters and forms that you can use on a day to day basis.  You may be lucky enough to purchase Management Rights with an extremely helpful outgoing manager that may have left behind their letters for you to use…..for many though this is not the case.

Property Management will throw twists and turns at you on a daily basis and a lot of the time it is the administration tasks that are the toughest.  You are beginning end of month process on your computer while you have the tenant from unit 1 on the phone complaining about the tenant in unit 2 and in front of you is a prospective tenant/guest who wants to register their details.  If you are an organised office you will have a ‘complaint register’ form which can easily be emailed to the tenant of unit 1 to complete, whilst on the phone you can turn around and hand the prospective tenant a ‘seeking property’ form to complete which leaves you to carry on with your end of month.

Having the tenant/guest complete these forms helps you in two ways…..1) the information is in writing for future reference and 2) your time is precious and you can deal with the required action once you have prioritised it.

If you do not have the time to write or create the required forms or letters yourself there are industry professionals such as Real Strategix that will provide these for you for a small amount of money which again is tax deductable.

Item 3 – Everything has a place.  I do not mean sticky notes have a place all over the desk and up the wall.  “I know I wrote it down on a sticky note” and you look up and you see your desk and side of your computer screen covered in sticky notes.

My advice is to have two desk trays.  One is your ‘in tray’ for work that needs to be completed and the other is for important documents that you need to get your hands on quickly.  (i.e. – tariffs, by laws etc.).   EVERYTHING else needs to be in your filing cabinet in labelled suspension files or ring binders.  It is time to write that RTA bond cheque and now you need to attach the bond lodgement forms….where are they?  Rather that search the property files for them or the pile on your desk, once they are signed put them all in a folder labelled “bonds to be lodged”.

Once you have attended to the above three items you will notice your productivity increase, your stress levels decrease and you will have more time to spend with your loved ones.

Management Rights can be extremely daunting and you will find that it isn’t just your office in a mess and other managers feel the same.  The quicker you get systems in place the more confident you will feel.

If you would like any more information or simply need Real Strategix help with any of the above please do not hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix

lauren@realstrategix.com.au