IMPORTANCE OF UPDATED CONTACT INFORMATION
A major repair must be made to the property you are managing, and this repair requires authorization from the property owner, as it exceeds the amount you can spend according to your management agreement. The air conditioning has ceased to work, and the inside temperature is exceeding 100 degrees. You try to contact the property owner, but there is no answer on the phone number you call. Do you go ahead, take a chance and get the repair done? You are not sure if your resident has vacated and want to avoid a potential wasted eviction action, so you try to contact the resident. His phone number is disconnected, he no longer works at the job he had at application, and the emergency number is out of service. Do you file the eviction or take a chance and take possession? The problem in both of these scenarios is that you simply cannot communicate because the information you have is insufficient.
The Resident: Typically through the application process, the manager will ask for the resident‘s phone number and an emergency contact. After a few months, there is a good chance that the resident has defaulted on his cell phone contract and/or has acquired a different phone number. The emergency contact was a friend who has moved and who also has a new number which you do not know. The property manager may have a work number for the resident, but when this number is called, the resident no longer works at that job, and no one there wants to give out any information. This is the reality of residents in Florida. We are a transient population here in Florida, and information and addresses change fast and furiously.
The Manager: When a property is managed by a local property manager, that manager will get the manager’s information at the time the Property Management Agreement is entered into. This information is often the out-of-state manager’s address, home phone number and nothing more. If the manager is not home, the property manager simply does not have any ability to make contact and communicate.
Email: Most residents and managers have email addresses. A few years ago this may not have been the case, but the reality today is that most individuals have email addresses, and many check them on a frequent basis. With multiple residents you will have multiple email addresses, and often you will have work and personal email addresses. The same will apply to the manager. Never assume that if a resident or manager is elderly that they are not computer savvy or do not have email. Often people give an incorrect email address by accident. We recommend that you send a confirmatory email after the resident moves in or after the property owner has signed a management agreement, just to be sure you have not been given incorrect information.
Home and Cell Phone Numbers: While a land line in the past has been the main contact number for most managers and residents, many are now opting to do away with the cost of the land line for cell phones or phone service provided by the local cable company. The property manager may be the last person to find out that the manager or resident no longer has a land line. Cell numbers of all the residents should be acquired at the time of move-in, or in the case of the manager, at the time the property management agreement is signed. The key is to get all the numbers, not simply one person as a contact. The more numbers you have, the greater chance you will be able to make contact.
Work Numbers: Acquiring the work numbers of both the manager and the resident is crucial. In the event you are having difficulty with all other numbers you may have, the work number may provide you with the information needed to track down the party. Most of the time we see the work number of the resident on an application, but in our experience, the property manager often does not have the owner’s work number. In the event the manager or resident is on vacation, you may be able to get information by simply calling and listening to a recording the party has left, or if you must speak to a co-worker, you may find the party. Be extremely careful never to use this method to transmit private information or imply that you are attempting collect rent. When calling a work number, how you identify yourself and the fact that the person you are calling may have caller ID could result in an accusation by the resident that you spoke to a co-worker about the resident’s rent obligation. A desperate resident will make up a story that you called and harassed her boss or spoke to a co-worker about private information.
Fax numbers: A large number of residents and managers have separate fax numbers due to home offices. Make sure that if you acquire a work fax number, care is taken that other employees of the fax recipient will not be viewing private information, and that express written authorization is obtained to transmit private information.
Keeping the information up to date
All information can and does change. Your information may have been accurate at the time it was acquired, but after a few months or sometimes years, this information is useless. It is crucial that the property manager has a system in place to regularly check this information for accuracy; we recommend at least every six months. Sending out requests for information in the owner’s statement or periodically to the resident may achieve the desired results, but if not, property managers need to affirmatively take the time to go through their records and update everything. Updated information will reduce liability, decrease evictions and make property management easier.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW