Seven Ways Tradespeople Get Burnt by Property Managers

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Working with property managers is great for business if you’re a tradesperson with a service property managers need on a regular basis. However not all property managers are good for business.

Most are great, but there is a minority you need to be careful of.

What’s important is that you know the pitfalls and how to avoid these bad operators successfully.

These issues outlined are in no way all of the issues but are certainly some main ones.

1- When a tenant is evicted who pays for the clean-up?

When a tenant is removed from a property or simply leaves it in a mess, some serious cleaning, carpet cleaning, minor repairs, gardening, and rubbish removal plus some other services will be required costing several hundred dollars, if not more!

If you are providing one of these services, you need to ask FIRST before you agree to do the work, where will payment be coming from and how long will it take?

If a property manager has prioritised the bond monies to the owner who is owed rent, then a tradesperson will likely be waiting a while until the property is re-let and monies are flowing again, or until a landlord insurance claim has been done. It can take months so be aware before you agree to do the work!

2- Asking for too many quotes

Simply, some property managers either do not understand that a good tradesperson is a busy one, or they don’t know how to handle an owner that likes to have ‘3 quotes’ all of the time.

Once you’ve got a good property manager and have formed a good working relationship, perhaps suggest to them that you’re happy to do quotes for a call-out fee. This should reduce these requests when an owner is told they can have as many quotes as they’d like, but they will cost. Once mutual respect is established, this should not be an issue and if it is, deal with it.

3- Not getting paid regularly enough

Most tradespeople run a small business and cash flow can be tight. Before you start a working relationship with a property manager, ask how regularly do they pay once a tax invoice is submitted.

Personally, I’ve seen a pattern where the better agencies pay regularly because they value good tradespeople and so provide payment either weekly or fortnightly to ensure their tradies don’t go hungry!

4- Everything being urgent!

Sometimes a property manager is poorly organised and so wants everything done right now, wrongly transferring their disorganisation onto others in the way of urgency.

This type of property manager can be difficult as these continuous actions indicate an incompetent operator.

This is out of your control. You need to make a decision whether you continue working for them if they don’t change.

5- Wants everything too cheap

The fact is that most property managers do recognise the value of a good tradesperson that charges reasonable rates and is able to quickly service a job.

There are a minority of property managers that ask for cheaper rates on a regular basis.

If this occurs, go find another property manager that values you better!

6- Being too vague with instructions

This issue can result in lost time and money doing work that was outside of the property manager’s expectations. Any instructions you are given, ensure they are specific and not generalised.

Generalised instructions will ALWAYS result in miscommunication and probably an invoice reduced or even forfeited to resolve any complaint.

7- Not placing invoices through for payment from owners

Simply put, some property managers are poorly experienced, downright incompetent, or both.

We have heard of a new painter whose very first agency gave them so much work they were kept busy with full-time painting for weeks – Until they were not paying the submitted tax invoices and the painter went broke!

Getting the right expectations upfront is important to ensure that you minimise any risks when working with property managers.

When you get this bit right, then your work experience with property managers should be a smooth and enjoyable one.


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