Mental health is a hot topic right now. I am concerned about the mental health in the property management industry. This job is tough. This job is unforgiving. It is not life and death. So why is it so stressful? We are problem solvers. So, how do we solve this problem of mental health? How do you take a phone call about the most mind-numbing complaint and then turn around and sparkle at a leasing appointment?
Imagine for a second, that a phone call comes in from a prospective resident. They are hopeful and excited about the property you manage. Only to quickly find out the home was leased. Their kindness turns dark, and the hundreds of frustrated hours they spent looking for a home are now zeroed in on you. It is your fault.
Oh look an email from the new resident you just moved in. They have now lived in the home for a week and are tearing it apart. Every little nook and cranny detail- that you should have caught before they moved in. With your superpowers, right?
This time it is an owner calling to tell you had great of a job you did leasing, BUT- you missed these 10 items. Only to let them know it is on the rent ready punch list, the vendor will complete tomorrow.
Knock, Knock. Two residents just walked in and threw their keys at you. They couldn’t figure out how to submit a 30-day notice. (You just write one) Then proceeded to fight with you via text about why it is dumb to require a 30-day notice. Oh, and now your perfectly planned day just got side swiped for a move out assessment you didn’t expect. There goes 2 hours you thought you had to prioritize other residents and owners. Usually the quieter ones who probably deserve your attention.
Time for the initial inspection with a resident who actually turned in their 30-day notice. After spending 20 minutes with them, you alert them to potential estimated charges. At this point they lose it on you, how could you possibly charge for paint and cleaning. This place looked terrible when they move in. Knowing full well your rent ready process wouldn’t allow for that. But you grin and bear it. That is our job.
Ring- SDGE turned off services at one of your vacancies and refuse to turn it back on.
Ding Dong– someone is here to drop off deposit- yay!
Ring, Ring– Another owner asking for a supervisor to complain about the rent control laws inhibiting them from getting market rent. And then continuing to disagree with you even though you have read every part of the law and consulted with a housing attorney.
Just then an email comes in from the vendor at your vacant home. There is a leak! That move in is pushed back 2 weeks. Owner is frustrated. New resident is inconvenienced. You are stuck in the middle.
Here is another person who is a lawyer, knows a lawyer or wants to be a lawyer threatening to sue if you don’t do whatever it is they want.
This…. was Monday morning. I write this not to complain or beg for sympathy. This is our chosen career. But this… is why property management has huge turnover rates. This, Owner and Resident, is why you “don’t know who to talk to” when you call in. Because the manager you had probably had enough and quit by now. In 2019 the turnover rate in property management was 36%. That is 10% more than most other industry averages. I would venture to guess it is well over 40% now.
As professional problem solvers we do our very best to interpret and execute effectively. What it comes down to, is the tone and expectation of customers. So I ask you to think about the way you are communicating to someone. Did you take your day out on the person who just answered the phone? Are you speaking down to them? Maybe you are questioning their expertise at every turn?
Owners and Resident: Take a breath. Give them a chance. If this last year taught us anything it is that life is short. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Lets fix it-together. Be nicer to everyone. Property Managers only get better with time. The harder you are on yours, will only make them look elsewhere. Forcing you to start over again.
Property Managers: take the week off. Most things can wait. And if not, your team will figure it out. We need to prioritize ourselves and our mental health. This industry depends on it.