This article was posted on Thursday, Dec 01, 2016

The question that will come to mind as you read this is “Who does that”?  The unfortunate answer is too many people.  We are in an industry full of talented people.  Mostly.  If these mistakes are occurring with your assets, it is probably time to look for new management – first to stop the damage and second, to remedy the potential of on-going issues and the exposure they present.  Suffice to say, these are all bad.

1.     Allowing a Danger to Public Safety to Persist
Suspect electrical, known illegal drug use, endangerment of children, domestic abuse, and violent behavior.  No good choices here.  All or any similar issues must be addressed in real time once known.

2.     Creating, Encouraging or Allowing Fraudulent Acts

No one should be skimming off the top.  Property Management is a business.  If you cannot do the business without a very high level of integrity then get out of the business, please.

3.     Keeping a Bad Hire
Other than fire or natural disasters, keeping a bad hire is one of the costliest mistakes.  It is one thing to make the mistake, quite another to allow it to persist and potentially cause more damage.

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4.     Bad Tenant or No Tenant Screening
Anymore, the expense of obtaining a background screening is really, really cheap insurance.  Have this tool available and failing to implement is trouble waiting to happen.

5.     Letting Water Run
Indoors or outdoors, running water is seldom a positive. Find the pliers.  Call the plumber, the roofer, the candlestick maker – whoever has the answer.  Get that water stopped the same day.

6.     Allowing Insurance to Lapse
Enough said.  Murphy’s Law lives here.

7.     Ignoring Maintenance Calls
News flash – they do not go away.  Good will is hard to earn and easy to lose.  If management doesn’t care about your customers, who will?

8.     Ignoring Renewals
The number one objective to retaining a stable income stream is making sure your customers are staying with a proactive renewal policy.  No renewals policy, no stable income.

9.     Lack of Record Keeping
Uncle Sam eventually catches up and when he does, It’s like an ocean wave hitting a single piece of sand.  Keep good records.  File tax documents on time using quality service providers.

10.  Avoiding the Telephone
There are varying policies regarding telephone etiquette and responsiveness.  Implement a policy and stick with it.  Your customers and potential customers want consistency.  Having the attitude of “they’ll call back” is self-deception.  “They” (potential tenants) do not.  They talk to the next person that picks up the phone.

10A. Unavailability of Product
“Having empty units with none available to show is an obvious candidate for being one of the seven deadly sins in property management.  It’s one thing to be momentarily out of units during make-ready “season” yet quite another issue altogether to have zero units available for showings because  ________________ (put your excuse in the blank).

Livable space is our product.  Having this livable space in condition for showing to potential paying customers is why property owners hire property managers.  Granted, this sets financial considerations aside.  To quote Malcom X, “By any means possible” try to have one unit available at all times”.

10B.  Lowering Credit Standards
Reducing credit qualification standards during the application process gives an immediate bump to occupancy but at too high a cost.  Reducing credit standards creates a downward spiral as collections and other similar activity increases.  Basically, you are taking good product off-line only to see your average revenue per unit decrease over time. (comment from Mark Dewey).

10C.  Under-Estimating Preventative Maintenance Costs
And the NEED to do your monthly and quarterly preventative maintenance.  (comment from Terry Graves)


Mr. Wilhoit is the author of How to Read a Rent Roll: A Guide to Understanding Rental Income and Multifamily Insight Volume 1  – How to Acquire Wealth Through Buying the Right Multifamily Assets in the Right Markets.

Multifamily Insight is dedicated to assisting current and future multifamily property owners, operators and investors in executing specific task that allow multifamily assets to operate at their highest level of efficiency. For more information, visit  Reprinted with permission of On-Site.