We don't get this question very often, because most of our clients hire a property manager precisely because they're hoping to avoid having to deal directly with tenants. But on occasion we get a question from a client who wants to speak directly to a tenant, so we've prepared this article to go over why this is a very bad idea, and why our policies and your management agreement don't allow for it.
If you look at both the lease and the management agreement, you'll see a provision in both that strictly forbids direct communication between tenant and owner. In the case of the tenant's lease, there's even a financial penalty if the tenant tries to communicate with the owner instead of going through us. Here are just a few reasons why this is our policy, and why it's in your best interests:
- Confrontations between tenants and landlords can be heated and even violent. During a recent visit at a property by a landlord in Wisconsin, a tenant allegedly shot the landlord in the head after being told that his rent was going up by $30. Even if you aren't going to the property to tell the tenant of a rent increase or something else that might upset the tenant, you have no way of knowing if the tenant is angry or prone to violence over other matters. There is no reason for you to risk your safety when these communications should all be handled by our staff.
- Anything that you say or do at the property could be held against you legally. Most owners are not at all familiar with landlord/tenant law. Even if you believe that you are, chances are pretty good that there's a whole lot that you don't know about this very broad legal subject. Our company has several law firms on retainer to deal with landlord/tenant issues, and even with our many years of experience in this field, we are constantly learning new things from our attorneys. Many landlords have gotten themselves in serious trouble by saying or doing something at a tenant-occupied property that they didn't realize was illegal. For example, one of our former clients had an arrest warrant issued against her because she went out to a property and had a vendor do a repair without proper notice to the tenant. The tenant filed charges for trespassing and unlawful eviction. Now that woman will forever have her mugshot show up online when her name is searched, all because she had a vendor do a repair at her own property. You don't want this to happen to you.
- Our insurance will not cover you, but it will cover all of our employees, agents, and vendors. The vast majority of real estate lawsuits are in the landlord/tenant arena, not in sales. If a tenant filed a lawsuit against you after you said something to the tenant or went to the property on your own, you would be left to pay for your legal defense, and your personal assets could be at risk from a judgment. When all communications are handled through us, our insurance covers all of this.
- When we're managing the property, we need to know everything that is going on so that we are best able to represent you and protect your interests. If communication is taking place directly between landlord and tenant, we are out of the loop and unable to do our job.
For these reasons, among many others, we do have a strict policy on this. It protects you, it protects us, and it even protects the tenant. It's in everyone's best interests to make sure that there is a single point of contact for all communications.
If you have any questions about this or anything else, please let us know.