It is important to examine the relationship between property manager and maintenance personnel.
Maintenance personnel are resident’s managers, onsite maintenance staff, and contractors.
Managers/Superintendent or Onsite Resident Manager
Resident building of many units should always have a manager or owner’s representative. Onsite Manager is one who supervises the maintenance of an apartment complex while living in one of the units in the complex. Duties include:
- Showing vacant units to prospective tenants.
- Coordinating all maintenance operations in the building.
- Making sure the building is kept clean and providing entry to repair personnel.
Also called superintendent or onsite manager. Although a resident manager’s responsibilities increase with the size of the building, this individual should report directly to the property manager.
A single property manager can stay abreast, of the maintenance needs of several larger buildings without becoming bogged down in the daily operating routine of each by regularly reviewing the reports submitted by resident managers.
However, the property manager should still periodically visit each building regularly to gather information on necessary’ maintenance and repairs and discover where operating cost can be cut down.
Onsite Maintenance Staff
The property manager must study carefully the minimum cost the property personnel required in the maintenance of real property.
For multitenant properties, minimum personnel requirements should be studied carefully to make sure that the full time staff is large enough to meet the routine maintenance need of the building.
Overstaffing can be expensive, so too can understaffing.
Property maintenance is mandatory to maintain high occupancy and also for enhancing property value. A property manager may be skillful enough to perform many of the maintenance tasks like keeping the premises clean and hygienic, but there are certain jobs that require greater expertise and time. These are repair and renovation jobs.
If the property manager cannot devote the required amount of time or does not have the requisite skills to get repairs and renovations done, he should always look outside that is seeking contract service.
Contract service in property maintenance involves the transfer of the maintenance tasks to an external service provider.
Services performed by outside persons on a regular basis for a specified fee are known as contract service. Property managers who represent several dwellings, will contract repairs on a case-by-case need basis.
This simplicity enables the owners to be billed only for services performed on their buildings. The terms of the management agreement often set a ceiling on the service contracts, the manager can execute without approval from the owner.
Before entering into any service contract, the manager should solicit competitive bids from several local agents. If appropriate, the manager can then compare the cost of contracting out with the expense of using onsite personnel.
In many situations, refuse removal, pest control and security are services that usually can be performed more efficiently and less expensively by outside contractors because of the less number of recurrences of service.
In addition, the property manager should check out the tenure for which the firm has been in the industry and its performance track record. Firms with a lot of experience for maintaining assets should be prefer over new firms.
The skill level of the professionals sent for taking care of the asset should be satisfactory.
If the firm sends inappropriate professionals to perform the repair work, the property manager should reject any assistance from these professionals and ask the firm to send the professionals appropriate for performing the job.
The property manager should contract property maintenance professionals who live close to their property because they will be able to devote more time in attending to the repair and renovation issues of the property.
Professionals who stay far away will have difficulty in commuting to and from the property due to the fact that they cannot devote much time on their task on the site.
The property manager might have to pay the property maintaining professionals, who are distantly located, charges for transportation. The manager will also want to know whether the firm’s employees are bonded and whether it has the necessary licenses or permits.
For the protection of both the manager and the owner, service contracts should always be in writing and contain a termination provision.
The latter stipulation becomes important if service is not satisfactory or if the property is sold or destroyed. Before any payments are made to outside contractors, the manager should obtain mechanic’s lien waivers or labour and material releases.
The intention of this document is to provide proof that the work and materials were paid for and that the contractor paid the subcontractors.
On the whole, maintaining a property is a task with many facets and the property manager must use the correct selection criteria in choosing the appropriate person to take care of the property.
Hiring and Firing Maintenance Employees
The approval of hiring and firing employees should be under the control of the property manager or the owner’s agent and not left entirely to the discretion of the resident manager or superintendent.
When screening employees, the property manager should welcome the resident manager’s opinion of their integrity, industry and skill. The same is even more critical when termination is involved.
Each applicant for a maintenance position should complete an employment application. The appearance, demeanor, motivation, experience, education, reliability and performance capacities of the prospective employee should be the overriding factors. In addition, past employment references are important and should be checked.
If a negative reference is received, which contradicts the manager’s evaluation of the applicant, the manager should try to determine if a personality conflict caused the unfavorable report from a former employer, rather than the capabilities of the employee.