Apartment Renter Tip: Mom & Pop Landlord vs. Professional Property Management: Vol. 2 Rent Collection and Property Maintenance

In Volume 1 of our blog series we talked about the Types of Landlords and the impact this can have on Tenant Screening. Here in Volume 2 we will dig deeper in the different options and features that you will find in the smaller Mom & Pop Landlord Shops vs. a Professional Property Management company.

Again, it is not our goal to sway you towards one or the other. Your specific needs as a resident may vary as widely as the services and amenities offered by both types of landlords. This is all about you trying to weigh the differences between a smaller, live-in landlord as opposed to possibly a larger building with more residents, and many, many more moving parts. In the end, you decide which path to follow.

Rent Collection: Life Style Flexibility

It is probably a lot more obvious how this may work from the Mom & Pop side of the equation. There is probably a mailbox on the front porch, or some other designated area in the building where it is common custom to leave your rent for the landlord. After all, they probably live there in the building with you and you could probably multi-task by knocking on their door while you are bringing out the trash. Actually, that is a great idea. First off they will be happy to see you taking out the trash and taking care of the building and keeping your apartment clean; and oh yeah, you are giving them the rent at the same time. That makes a landlord double-happy. Great job!

Renter Free Report Download: Top 10 Tips To Get Your Dream Apartment
Renter Free Report Download: Top 10 Tips To Get Your Dream Apartment

Now the larger, professional property manager may have more options for you to accommodate your busy life style. For example, we have millennial residents who absolutely love to pay their rent from the convenience of their smart phones without skipping a beat in their face-paced lifestyle.

As you live in a apartment complex with more and more units in the compound, you will probably see more and more rent collection and payment options available to make your life, paying the rent, and collecting the rent a more seamless process to all parties.

Some options available for rent collection are online web sites, credit cards, debit cards, auto-deposit accounts, automated checks, pay pal, and the list goes on and on. There are also plenty of professional property management software packages that offer a few simple lines of code you can plug into your corporate web site and provide you with the convenience of having a web site portal for rent collection. All of this without having to hire an IT staff or wed developer to maintain the systems behind the curtains. It is all automated and super easy as a payment collection option.

So whereas it may be pretty simple to pay the rent on your way out the door without much hassle at all in a convenient smaller owner-occupied property, a professional property management company with lots of payment options could offer you the freedom of being anywhere, at any time, being able to pay with just a few clicks for the resident on the move.

Maintenance: Economy of Scale

Ok, here it is going to be a little hard to sell you on the Mom & Pop landlords and the reasons are pretty evident. Economy of scale is the answer.

We have seen this over and over again as a professional property management company. We have good relationships with our contractors, plumbers, electricians, and other service professionals. Of course we always have to pay our bills on time to keep the relationship strong, but the other advantage we hold is the volume of work we pass along their way.

With multiple buildings and a large number of units, there is always a project on the job board keeping out contractors busy. This works to our advantage in three ways.

The first, it is very easy for the contractor to have a steady flow of work without having to maintain several customer relationships. By working with us, we always have work for them, they win, we win, and our residents win because we keep the jobs coming. What contractor wants to hit the streets to drum up work. Having a steady flow of work from the same client is a goldmine for a contractor.

The second way we all win is because we can get a better rate for giving them so much work. It makes sense. Most folks will accommodate the easiest way to make a living. Imagine only having to call a few clients to cover all of your businesses’ monthly bills. So knowing we have more work right around the corner, we can negotiate possibly a better rate or buy supplies in bulk to keep our costs, and the landlords expenses down to a manageable number month after month. A large property management company, that pays its bills, will always get a great deal because we will probably have more work next week for the same contractor.

The third, and probably most important factor, is premium customer service. Not only do we give them a lot of work, able to get a break on costs, but they answer the phone when we call. Steady work flow gives the contractor the flexibility to give us a deal, and knowing that the work keeps coming, they are there when we need them.

I like to tease my plumber from time to time about this. We have had the same guy for going on seventeen years and he is solid as a rock. There has never been a project we have thrown his way he has not been able to solve. Do not ask me for his name, because I’m not going to give it to you. I am one of his biggest clients and I want to keep it that way. If you start calling him too, he may be busy when I call.

I tell him all of the time, “I have paid for your House, your Harley Davidson, your Cadillac, your Street Hot Rod, your past three work vans, and your vacations for over a decade – and that is just fine with me”. Why not? He works his butt off for me and my residents and deserves every penny for his service to our residents. Happy residents pay rent on time. Unhappy residents leave your building empty.

So on the flip side, we have Mom & Pop. While they may be more flexible and nimble in some aspects of their business, lets face it. It is always going to be a financial hardship when the water heater goes out. They may have to negotiate a cheaper price from the same contractor we use whereas we are paying a fair rate and not complaining about it. Sure we all need to count the pennies, but if you push too hard, the plumber may lose your phone number the next time you call.

Now there are some pretty handy Mom & Pops out there who know the property better than the back of their hand. They can probably fire up that furnace faster than you can Google “Plumber”. So you need to ask a lot of questions before signing the dotted line. What if this something or other breaks down? Then what happens if there is a major repair on a weekend or holiday? Who is coming out to fix it?

Mom & Pop may only call the plumber every couple years or so. They probably will not hold the same priority as the company that gives them the bulk of their annual work load. Think about it. They do not want to jeopardize losing the bigger fish. The little fish may have to wait, and that puts you in the middle of it.

But again, you may have that jack-of-all trades as a landlord who is happy to tinker around the property because it gives them something to do. Whether you go large management or smaller property owners, make sure you ask in advance what is going to happen if something goes south while you are a resident there.

On The Horizon

We hope you have enjoyed Volume 1 and now Volume 2 in our series and will be back soon for additional information. Upcoming blog topics for our Volumes in discussing our Mom & Pop vs Professional Property Management series will cover comparing issues like:

  • Resolving Disputes and Differences
  • Resident Retention Programs

Do you have any other ideas on this topic you could share to help our online community? Please chime in to share a comment or review. All feedback is welcomed!

Warmest regards,

Brian Lucier
Belaire Property Management
Regional Property Manager
(978) 448-0669 office

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