landlord, property management, real estate


Every landlord has had a tenant lie to them at some point.  It goes with the job.

“Where did that stain come from?”  “I don’t know.  I think it was here when we moved in.”  “No, I have pictures from the day you moved in and there was no stain on the carpet.  A matter of fact, it was brand new carpet.”

Battles over security deposits have become the hottest item in our business. Just look at our reviews and you will see comments from previous tenants that we ripped them off, stole their money, and were total jerks when they moved out.  Always take before and after pictures.  Store them on your computer with clear notes.  Have the tenants fill out a move in sheet when they lease.  You will still have fights but at least you will have proof.

On the other hand; there are times when you need to give your tenant the benefit of the doubt.  Things happen.  Weird things happen.  They may sound like an obvious lie but….the tenant could be telling the truth and there is no explanation.

I rent my office.  I have a commercial grade double pane (thick) window  in a metal frame that stands between a refrigerator and a wall and needs to be kept to re-install when we vacate.  It is in a corner and has not been moved for three years.  This morning we came in to find the top corner shattered on the wall side with small glass chips all over the floor.  Unless someone broke in over the night, pulled the window out and threw a rock right at that spot we can only assume that a stress fracture finally gave way.  I’m no glass expert but I don’t see any logical reason for this.

I will need to pay for this when I move out and it gets re-installed.  I’m in a commercial lease and I pay for everything.  But it made me think – how many times do I blame a tenant for something that can’t be proven?

Here’s my test – do I have proof?  How long has the tenant lived on the premises?  How good of a tenant are they in payments, cleanliness, cooperation, etc.?  Do I want to charge someone when it can’t be proved what happened (who really put paper towels in the sewer?) and do I want to lose a really good tenant?  There are a number of questions to ask when assigning blame – just make sure it is worth it.  Sometimes weird things happen like exploding glass.


Business, property management

You only call with bad news

Letter from an owner, “I only hear from you when you have bad news.”  I hear this a lot.  Bad news is that the owner’s unit needs a repair or that something negative happened at the unit.  My job is to inform the owner and enter them into the discussion/solution or get their approval for the repair.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news Mr. Owner.  I didn’t cause your furnace to break or your roof to leak.  I didn’t tell you to buy this property.

Should I start sending out Happy Birthday cards?  Anniversary cards?  Joke of the day?  How about if I call and just say hello?  Oh, I didn’t really need anything, I just wanted to call you and say the weather here is wonderful.

I could put a clause in the contract, “I would like to be called or emailed each week with good news.” and charge $___ for the service.

I know this is just part of the job as a property manager.  We don’t get to make a lot of people happy.

Any suggestions?


apartment, landlord, property management, real estate

Who does your repairs

Owner: “I could do the repairs myself for a lot less than you are charging.”

Manager: “I’m sure you can.  You are welcome to do the repairs if you want.”

Owner: “I have a guy who will do the work for less than half of what you are charging but I have to oversee him and pickup his supplies.”

Manager: “You are welcome to use him.”

Owner: “But I live 3 hours away.  It’s a hassle to come down there and take care of it.”

Manager: “Yes, I can imagine that would be.”

Owner: “I just don’t like paying your prices.  They are too high.”

Manager: “How much is your time worth to drive 3 hours each way to oversee a guy painting your apartment and picking up paint for him?”


I hear this constantly.  This morning as a matter of fact.  You can’t have it both ways.  I don’t change the oil in my car – I pay someone to do it for a lot more than I could do it on my own.  I don’t want the mess, hassle and work involved with changing my oil.  I’m happy that someone will do it for me.

A landlord has a choice – take time out of their schedule to do the work or pay someone to do the work.  It’s their choice.  A manager can lay out the options but can’t be expected to do the work for free.


apartment, Business, landlord, property, property management, real estate

Porch Collapse

**Do your repairs.

Landlord received hundreds of violations before porch collapse

Posted on: 3:54 pm, September 20, 2013, by 


MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Tenants at 2405 W. National say problems at the building existed long before a fourth story balcony collapsed on Thursday, September 19th, causing minor injuries to a 42-year-old man.

“You gotta deal with these rodents. You got little roaches. You got bed bugs now, they came back,” said resident Montrale Veasy.

porch collapseThe Red Cross is now housing 33 people from the apartment complex in a shelter after they were not allowed to return home.

The building’s listed landlord, Elijah Mohammad Rashead, did not return a call from FOX6. But Danita Green, who has three grandchildren in the building, says she was able to get a hold of him.

“I talked to him today regarding how he’s going to help them and he said anyone that didn’t pay their rent, they’re not helping at all,” said Green. “He’s just taking these people’s money and letting them live in a shack and it’s not right.”

Records show the property has had about 40 violations in the last five years. In 2008, the owner was ordered to restore the porch support columns. It turns out the contractor working on the balcony at the time of the collapse did not have the proper permit.

“All these maintenance people aren’t really maintenance people. They’re just people he hires off the street,” said Veasy.

The city describes Rashead as an experienced landlord and Department of Neighborhood Services Commissioner Art Dahlberg says orders have been issued in the past which Rashead complied with.

Rashead owns dozens of properties in Milwaukee, however, which have acquired hundreds of violations.

“Ultimately it is the responsibility of the property owner to safely maintain a property, so in this case, we have a problem and we will get to the bottom of it,” said Dahlberg.

Tenants of the building still don’t know when, or if, they can return home.

apartment, landlord, property, real estate

detroitIt’s the old chicken and the egg conflict – what came first. In the landlord business we hear it all the time, “I stopped paying my rent because my landlord isn’t doing repairs.”  “I stopped doing repairs because my tenant is paying rent.”

Which comes first? Good question.  My guess is that both happen.  I know landlords that don’t do repairs and the tenants withhold rent.  I know tenants that don’t pay and the owner can’t or refuses to do the repairs.  Both situations often end up in court for the judge to decide.   It’s not always easy to judge right.

If you are a landlord do the necessary repairs.  If your tenants don’t pay, get them out.  It is not a valid excuse in this age to refuse repairs because the tenants aren’t paying.  You can evict them for non payment but don’t jeopardize the property, tenant safety, or your reputation by refusing repairs.  There are no requirements for upgrades but the necessary repairs need to be done.

Who is to blame