To be a successful and effective property management company, communication with both the owner and tenant is critical. Property managers need to establish an open, professional business relationship to help ensure the retention of tenants at a commercial property. It is their job to enforce all lease terms; building rules and regulations; and situations where a tenant stops paying their rent on time. If the property manager is ineffective in these areas, the owner’s property experiences a decline in its NOI (net operating income). It’s inherent that the property manager maintains communication and mutual understanding between the tenant and the landlord.

A critical area of ‘communication’ usually evolves around maintenance issues. Maintenance is an ongoing process of balancing costs and services. The tenants are looking for resolutions to maintenance problems in a timely manner. It’s the responsibility of the property manager to determine what is needed to preserve the physical condition of the property by inspecting and determining the most cost effective manner to solve the problem. The property manager must be efficient in the four primary areas of maintenance – 1) preventative maintenance; 2) corrective maintenance; 3) routine maintenance; and 4) new construction maintenance.

When a maintenance problem is reported, the property manager should be certain that each tenant understands the correct procedure for making service requests and what services can reasonably be expected. Often times (and especially so) in our active market, it is difficult to get vendors to respond immediately. This is particularly evident during our “rainy” seasons, when many roofs are pushed to their limits in handling water runoff. By building long term relationships with service vendors, and by maintaining an excellent reputation as a management company, you certainly improve the level of response time and urgency given by your service vendors. When requests are made or reported, the tenant should be told immediately – either when the job will be scheduled or why it cannot be completed. If it cannot be completed, it’s usually due to either vendor delays or due to a clause in their lease that may make it a ‘tenant’ responsibility versus landlord responsibility to maintain or repair. If it is determined to be the tenant’s responsibility, a good property manager will recommend a vendor the tenant may then contact on their own.

In addition to providing prompt, professional and efficient service that will establish a good tenant-manager relationship, the manager must also protect the owner’s interests by implementing an effective system for the collection of rents and other income, and the ability to deal with delinquencies and collections. When a tenant fails to pay rental charges as outlined in their lease agreement or is not in compliance with other terms in their lease, the owner has a right to bring a court suit for eviction and a judgment for damages against a delinquent or disruptive tenant. The proper legal notice and time to remedy must be carefully followed in the State of Florida, and an attorney representing the owner’s interest is the best course of action, if it reaches this point.

When a tenant has executed their lease and moved into their space, the property manager’s skill in human relations will help retain that tenant long term for the property owner. Tenants are more likely to renew their leases if they feel they’re receiving the attention they deserve and in most leases pay for through CAM (common area maintenance) charges. By helping to retain tenants the owner is saving re-improvement dollars; continuing to benefit from market rents; and is improving the bottom line of their property. The foundation for sound tenant relations is a good reputation for maintenance, responsiveness and professional management of the property.