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Red Flags! 6 Signs of an Underperforming Property Manager

An underperforming Property Manager is likely to result in an underperforming investment property, along with some frustration. Landlords start to wonder what they’re paying for and if it’s worth changing agents.

You know what I say, changing agents isn’t that hard because your new agent will do most of the work and be motivated to do so, and your tenants might be happy you’re ditching an unresponsive agent!

So, what are the tell-tale signs that they are underperforming (and probably need to be given the boot)? I’m covering them here.

No sense of urgency

Even I can’t cope when people use the word urgent on me but the management of some matters needs urgent action and ongoing attention until it’s resolved. If everything is feeling a bit relaxed or tinged with a “she’ll be right” attitude, then it won’t be.

The management of property needs someone that’s on top of issues when there is an issue, so whilst a Property Manager’s services are not required around the clock or at all times, however, when they are needed, they should be present and available. When issues arise or they are called on to problem solve then the level of urgency they act with should be apportioned to the issue itself.

For instance, is there time to troubleshoot and look at several solutions, or does the issue require swift action and the details to be worked out later? Either way, all issues need solutions to be provided, and some, not all, are time-sensitive.

Reactive rather than proactive

Putting out fires or preventing them? A Property Manager always on the back foot, or chasing their tail on matters might not be organised enough to cut it in Property Management. See also; Systems & Procedures. Sure no one can foresee every issue but there are many where prior preparation prevents poor performance.

Also, when there’s an issue a Property Manager should also be the first person to offer up the solutions or some options to get to a solution.

Missing critical time frames

If a Property Manager misses regular inspections or time frames in which to issue specific notices it’ll cost you, the landlord. For example, you might miss an important access visit, or worse still, gaining vacant possession when you need it. The most commonly missed time frame is the window of time where the rent can be increased, missing that is delaying the rent increasing altogether.

There are timeframes for everything in Property Management and importantly, if your property isn’t regularly inspected then that can void your landlord’s insurance.

Poor or lacking communication

Hands up, I’m first to realise that no one is thrilled to hear from their Property Manager, especially when there is maintenance or an issue needed to be dealt with or discussed. But isn’t ignoring an issue even worse, small issues become big & therefore expensive ones.

If this happens or you generally don’t hear boo from your agent, not an e-newsletter, not a market update, or a general “Hey” here and there, then are they working for you? Now, we do HEAPS of tasks in the background that our owners don’t even know about but every now and again landlords need to know if it’s all good, or not. Then we have the issue of phone calls and emails not being returned and that simply isn’t good enough – in ANY customer service space. Do you read me Telstra and countless others!

Chopping & Changing

Your Property Manager moves on and all of a sudden you’ve got a new point of contact now, and it’s happening a lot. Is it a sign of something else going on at that office that is leading to poor staff retention? Are they tasked with managing too many properties which means your property is just a number (or an address) to someone?

This is not a good sign, I’ve covered this many times before, loss of staff means a loss of information and knowledge about your property, your tenants, and how you want things done.

Questionable Systems, Policies & Procedures

Systems that an agency runs by need to be consistent, what we do once we need to be doing all the time. This shows organisation but it’s about efficiency and ensuring everything has its checks and balances.

Your agent’s procedures for EVERYTHING should be the same each time around, giving a little flexibility for improvement tweaks. If the way they do things generally, doesn’t have consistency over time then maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants and that’s not a good sign. If you’re not seeing efficiency when it comes to how inspections are carried out and reported, financial reporting leaves anything to be desired then there could be internal issues.

Are there more?

I’m so sure there are more warning signs where a client, or any customers/clients would get the gut feeling that something is not just right. As I was writing this blog, I realised just how all of the Red Flags I went into tied into each other, because they do.

How can you miss critical timeframes if you have a procedure in place?

How can you plan ahead if you are reactive instead of proactive?

A Good Property Manager needs the structure of tried and tested systems and procedures, that are effective and consistently used.

Property Managers, like us, are utilising technology to help us along the way but those that are too reliant are forgetting there is nothing like a checklist and a process that anyone can pick up and follow.

So, there is a lot needed to get it right, of course, and I know this firsthand. Along with what I’ve covered I also know it comes down to Property Managers not being overloaded with too many properties to manage, a willingness to help, and great organisation skills.

As I said, it takes a lot to make a good Property Manager and sometimes some effort to find the right one, but so worth it when you consider what they’re tasked with looking after!


– Antonio

Director & Property Manager