Veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi takes on questions each week from landlords and property managers around the country. His goal is to help educate fellow landlords and property managers on issues he has seen in his 30 years in the business. This week the question from a property manager is about what questions you ask when the tenant first calls?

Dear Landlord Hank: Do tenants normally interview you as a property manager?

Normally, I’d answer this question with “no.”

The reason is that I usually have been instrumental in the rental process from the beginning.

Typically, I have provided information about the unit and the development. I have shown the unit, helped with the application process for the owner and the Homeowners Association (if there is one). Also I provide the necessary contact information for utilities, TV and WIFI, trash removal, etc.

I am also going to meet and welcome tenants on move-in day.I give them keys, fobs, remotes, etc and do an extensive walk through inspection of the property and contents. Any damage or problematic areas are photographed.

I do the walk-through as if I were the tenant

I do the walk through as if I were the tenant. I really do record all the issues so that the tenant is not charged for damage they did not cause.

I want to be fair to tenants.

Also, it is best to orient the new tenants to the property. I want tenants to know that if they have a problem or maintenance need, I want to hear about the issue as soon as possible so the issue can be repaired.
I make sure they have my cell phone number as well as my email address.

Problems that DEMAND an immediate call to me are:

  • Fire, after a call to 911.
  • Water leaks, but not drips into sinks or running toilets.
  • Perceived dangerous condition to people or property such as a downed tree, power line, animal, etc.

I also show tenants where water main cut off is to the unit, as well as fire extinguisher and smoke detectors. I have the tenants sign paperwork stating they have received information on the fire extinguisher and the smoke detectors are functioning.
I let them know where mail delivery is, garbage pick-up days, routine for landscapers, pool maintenance, parking spots, etc.
At this point the tenants have also received community rules and regulations, if appropriate.

What should be the No. 1 question tenants ask a property manager?

Most tenants don’t ask about safety.

They’ve already determined in their minds that the property is in a relatively safe location.

But that would be my No. 1 question a tenant should ask. Most properties are viewed during the day. And the night-time conditions could be markedly different.

If a tenant does ask about safety, I can’t really answer that question. So I refer tenants to the local police department, so tenants can ask about crime in the development and general area.

Photo © Kzenon via Canva.

About the author Hank Rossi

“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing and I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. “ Visit Hank’s website here.