Thursday, August 16, 2012

Transitions

Despite all the frustrations and headaches that Santa caused me, I at least wanted him to receive some credit for referring me to a property manager, so I let him do that much. The property manager and I had a phone conference in which she explained to me what putting a house up for rent entails. I asked her to outline my expenses and she said repeatedly that they don't collect any money until they find a renter for my house. Then they only ask for a $150 administrative fee and $200 down for emergency repairs, plus 8% of the rent each month.

I did the math, taking the mortgage into consideration, the fact that I wouldn't have to pay for utilities anymore, how much they would collect from the renters, their 8%, and what would be left over after all was said and done. It appeared that we would make a small profit as long as nothing broke down and required repairs, and it would buy us some time so that we can put the house back up for sale when the market improves. I verified that they wouldn't collect any money from me until they found a renter, and the property manager assured me that was the case.

She emailed us a contract, and it contained a clause that we were required to provide proof of insurance covering a million dollar liability, and the property management company had to be included as the policy holder. I called my insurance agent to set that up, and she quoted my home insurance as being $350 more than what I was previously paying. I was annoyed that the property manager neglected to mention that there was this required change to my home insurance policy that would increase my premium. I wasn't happy about losing more money, but we'd earn that back after a month's rent. We signed the contract and I emailed it back to the property manager, and then she said, “All we need from you now is the $150 administrative fee.”

Say what? I reminded her that she said she wouldn't collect any money until she found a renter. She said I must have misunderstood.

Really?

I wasn't about to pick a fight over $150, so I just sent her check. I was tired of all the bullshit and just had to get someone into that house before my home insurance rates skyrocketed for having a vacant house, which is considered to be an extreme liability by insurance companies. My insurance agent knew we had moved out, but was giving me time to get a buyer or tenant. She did say that if nothing happens within a few weeks, she'd be contacting the main office to let them know that the house is vacant. I think the only reason why she was giving me a grace period in the first place was because my property manager was her mother, and she didn't want to blow the deal for her. I had said that if the insurance rates were too high, I would not put the house up for rent, which would mean that her mother wouldn't get the contract.

At the same time the county assessor was sending us forms to fill out claiming whether our house is our primary residence or a rental. I didn't know what to say. Technically, it's our secondary residence that happens to be up for sale and rent, but does not have any buyers or tenants at the moment. I didn't want to be charged any kind of rental taxes or fees if I don't have a tenant.

No sooner did I get past those threats of having to pay through the nose for our unfortunate circumstances, and the property manager contacted me to inform me that her staff did an inspection of my property and found a lot of problems that were going to cost me money to fix. I about flipped out. I had previously invested close to $35,000 into fixing up the place. Now what was the problem? Did someone break something while having the house shown to him? The house was in perfect shape when I left it a month before.

I asked for specifics on what needs to be fixed and she launched into this long list of ceiling fixtures that needed dusting, toilet bowls, tubs and basins that needed cleaning so that there weren't any rings, a walkway that needed to be hosed down, and a sprinkler head that wasn't covering enough of the lawn, so there were brown patches on the lawn. My first thought was, “So what? Who are they trying to prepare my house for? The Queen of England?”

I explained that the toilet bowl and bathtub rings have been there since I moved in 18 years ago, and I've never been able to remove them. She said that with the right cleaning products and some elbow grease, they can be removed. Whatever. The thing is that our water contains lime and rust deposits, so even if they get a professional cleaning crew in there to shine everything up nicely, by the end of the month the rings will just return to the toilet bowls and the dust will return to the ceiling fixtures and the leaves will return to the walkway. Then what? Are they going to ask me to pay several more hundred dollars to do it all again?

She also said that my lawns were not being mowed often enough. As is, I'm paying $100 a month to have them mowed twice a month. I know other people whose gardeners mowed and trimmed every week for only $80 a month, but we have to pay more because we have five yards. I'm only getting half the service for more money.  I told the property manager that I could not afford to pay to have my lawns mowed every week unless she could find a new gardening service that could do it for $100 or less. She said she would try.

When she said the carpet needed cleaning, I really put my foot down. I said, “That's a brand new carpet, installed just one month ago and hardly anyone has been inside that house for a showing. It should not be dirty.”

She said she would talk to my real estate agent about it to see if what I was saying was true.

Say what? Now the PM was treating me like I was a child who tells lies. That dang real estate agent told a heck of a lot more lies in three months than I have in my entire life, and she was choosing to take his word over mine?

I was trying not to be rude, but my hackles were on full alert. When the property manager first claimed that I misunderstood about the timing of paying the $150 administrative fee, I knew she was lying, but chose to ignore it. Now she was pushing cleaning, gardening, and repair bills on me before she got a tenant into the place. I had repeatedly asked her if there would be anymore expenses beyond what she quoted me, and she repeatedly said no. Now I knew she was deceitful. How could I work with someone like that? I obviously couldn't trust this woman to manage my property, and she made it clear that she didn't trust me as a home owner, so there was just no chance of us having a good business relationship.

The PM called a week later and said that the cleaning lady reviewed what needed to be done at my house and estimated that it would take 10 hours to clean at $20 an hour, so they needed me to send them $200 before she could clean the house.  TEN hours?  What a load of B.S.!  That house is totally empty with brand new carpeting and fresh paint.  I scrubbed and cleaned all the tubs, showers, basins, toilets, and counter tops myself before I left.  All that needed to be done was a little dusting, and there was no point in even doing that, because no sooner do you dust, and it comes right back within a week.

As my husband pointed out, we weren't paying her to manage us and our pocketbooks. If signing that contract gave her full rein on our bank account, we wanted out. I knew there was a clause that said the property management company had the right to cancel the contract should the seller not cooperate, so I decided to be as uncooperative as possible.

9 comments:

Cheryl Ann said...

Good for you! They sound like a nightmare! Really...you JUST put in new carpets and painted the house...just how dirty could they be?I hope you aren't pulling out your hair right now! :-( And, 10 HOURS to clean a vacant house? What a SCAM!!!!! She's probably friends with the cleaning lady (and getting a kickback!)

Paint Girl said...

Wow. What a nightmare. How can they say you need to have brand new carpet shampoo'ed? For real? There are some serious idiots there. Good for you for standing your ground!

Reddunappy said...

OMG I would be so furious!!!

Stick to your guns girl!!!

fernvalley01 said...

just wow

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I bet you learned a good lesson not to trust anyone that your real estate agent refers to you. What a joke. My hackles would have been up to when she would have told me that I needed to make her a policy holder. No way, no how, lady!
And that $150 administration fee. What the heck?
We rented our house in Rio Rancho for 7 years and our admin fee was only $35., just enough to cover their costs to print up all the paperwork and contracts and the time spent to enter the info into their computer.
I don't even remember them discussing insurance with us, and they didn't ask for a $200 deposit for repairs. If repairs were required, we had the option to have them deducted out of the renter's rent money, or send them a check and they would pay them, or pay the repair company directly.

As for cleaning, we cleaned the house ourselves before we moved out and it was good enough for the PM, but in between renters, we had to bring in a cleaning service to prepare the house for new renters.

I hope you had that PM tear up your 'admin fee' check. What a nightmare!

~Lisa

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Just got to thinking....are you sure that 'admin fee' isn't a finders fee? A finders fee is what some PM's charge when they find a renter for your property.
Some try to get away with charging that fee with the first's month's rent, but that shouldn't be agreed upon. Instead have the PM agree to move that forward until the tenant has been in the house for at least 3 months, and even 6 months. This helps ensure that your PM is taking their time and having good intuition on the people they interview to rent your house. If the PM just signs up the first person who shows up without making sure they would be responsible and reliable, then you can have some serious issues, like damage to your home and failure to pay rent.

That $150 just seems way too high to just be an 'admin fee'. I'd call her out on that one.

~Lisa

Ms Martyr said...

I agree with Lisa in that I would be very hesitant to hire someone recommended by your lazy realtor.

We are undergoing house negotiations right now. Are you aware of an Internet service called DocuSign?
https://www.docusign.net

It would enable you to have a "no money down" agreement in writing with the property manager and she wouldn't be able to weasel out of it.

There is no clause allowing you out of the agreement, especially since they haven't done anything yet?

allhorsestuff said...

Just like you got OUT of your neighborhood, get away from that PM woman! Oh my! What a scam .

Is there a better business agency you may refer to around?!!

allhorsestuff said...

...or consumer protection?
Hang in and so sorry for the nit picky, life sucking actions to follow you!