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PPMS Property Management
Q. How did you get into the area of property management?
A. I have over 20 years banking experience in a variety of managerial positions, in particular the mortgage and property departments of the bank. Myself and my husband had property that was being managed ? but not managed very well, so I started to look after it myself. Then the opportunity came to leave the bank. I decided to try something different and I found I really enjoyed it. A client I had from the bank asked me to look after some properties that he had built and it just moved on from there.
Letting and managing property is mainly what I do. For the letting part, I would advise a client on what is required before putting a property on the market. We would research their potential tenant base, interview potential tenants, check out any references, show the properties and then recommend a tenant to the landlord. If the property owner wants let-only, we just hand the file over to them after we have found the perfect tenant for them.
Q. Who makes a good tenant for a rental property?
A. A good tenant sees the property as their own home, not necessarily a transient place to eat or sleep. When letting out a property first time to a client, I usually go to where they are currently living to collect the deposit. A lot of the time, it confirms your decision how well they look after their property. When choosing a tenant, as a landlord myself, I will always use the criterion "Would I put those tenants in my own house?". If I would not put them in my house, I will not put them in your house. That criterion has stood my in good stead.
Q. What are some of the red flags to look out for when taking on new tenants?
A. Well, if somebody wanted to move into a property tomorrow without any obvious reason, from my experience, there could be potential issues there. Secondly, if the tenant is not forthcoming with the references, it is not always a good sign. A lot of it depends on taking the time to assess the client thoroughly and objectively. Some agencies take the first potential client that comes along, get the commission and go. My selection process is different, I guarantee any tenant that I select and in the long run it makes the difference to both the landlord and the property. It can be tempting to rush the selection process to fill the gap, but in my experience the chances are that it will cost a lot more in the long run if a bad tenant is chosen.
Q. What sort of problems can arise if a property is let out to a "bad" tenant?
A. Well, to give you an example, recently I was dealing with a landlord who was an ex-colleague of mine. He let out a house to a couple who had two teenagers. He had not been in the house for nearly 3 years. One day, he rang me to inform me that he couldn't actually get into the house. When we did eventually gain access, the bathroom was badly leaking, which in turn was causing the kitchen ceiling to be badly sagging. In addition to this, the hinge on the PVC door was falling off, which caused the plasterboard around the door to be damaged. They had dogs and appeared not to have hovered the house in a while because of the smell of dog all over the place! And on top of this, there were unpaid ESB, gas and waste bills. It cost them nearly ?35,000 to bring it back to normal condition, and the owner ended up selling it in the end. That's what can happen if you don't manage your property right!
There is no such thing as unearned income. When I manage the properties, I visit them regularly, and if the client is a little bit slow in letting you in, you would get concerned. Thankfully, I've never had anyone say to me "please don't come in".
Q. Do you come across many cases where some people don?t want to leave?
A. Thankfully, I have never had that problem but it does happen. For example, I was speaking to a landlord recently who had rented an apartment in Drogheda. His agent didn't check out the tenant very well. He had been in the apartment for four months and has not paid a cent. The agent's request for rent had been met with the blunt assertion "I have no money". The landlord went to local Garda station and was told there was nothing they could do. The issue was not helped by the fact that the agent was from one of the bigger letting agencies. With some of these agencies, their attitude can be get them in, get the commission and walk. With me, it is my reputation; I have a vested interest in picking suitable tenants.
Q. So you are a lot more flexible than some of the bigger property maintenance companies in Dublin?
A. If you have a problem with a leak on a Friday afternoon at 5pm, you won?t be able to contact some of the bigger property maintenance companies or letting agents in Dublin until the Monday morning. With me, if it's a big problem, they can ring me on Friday night.
Q. Are there many landlords out there who believe that having a property is just a passive form of income?
A. Yes, there are lots of them. But, I always say to new landlords "is there ever a 12 month period in your own house where you have nothing to do to it?" They always say "no" and I tell them the same applies to a rented property. If you want to do it right, you have to invest time and money.
Q. What tips would you give to someone preparing a property for the rental market?
A. It must be spotless, particularly bathrooms and kitchens. The rest of the rooms do not have to be ultra trendy but they have to be well presented. For example, they have to have decent curtains or blinds and other basics such as headboards on beds. You have to remember there are a lot of excellent properties in the rental market and there is stiff competition.
Q. What makes a good location for a rental property in Dublin?
A. Well, the location of a property can be very subjective. For example, Swords might be great location for somebody working in the airport but not a great location for someone working in the city centre. Besides that, a good location for a rental property is one that is near shops, schools, and the usual amenities. Locations near good transport links such as bus, Luas or Dart are always a plus.
Q. What would you say to people who claim a rental property can be easily managed by themselves?
A. Well, to do it right you must have experience in handling tenants. You must have a portfolio of trusted trades-people around you. Let's say, a client phones you up with an emergency such as a water leak. Without experience and without knowing the right trades-people you could end up relying on trades-people from the phone book. You won?t know in advance how competent or expensive they are. If they have not fixed it right the first time, they might be difficult to get in contact with again. It's all about getting the right people to fix problems, and if a problem does reoccur, they will come back and get it sorted for the client. That's how I get a lot of my work. Landlords are constantly getting calls from their tenants, and can get very frustrated because they are trying to do their day job as well. They do not have time to get these issues sorted out during the day, and night time might not be suitable for them. I try to take all of the added stresses from renting a property away from a landlord.
Recently, after completing a let-only job for a landlord, I handed him back the file on the property. A couple of weeks later, he rang me back to tell me the tenants had phoned him with some issues. He handed me back the file and told me "I really would like you to manage these properties as well. I don?t have the time to do it. I thought it would be easier".
Q. Do you have a lot of Irish abroad for whom you look after property?
A. The majority of Irish people abroad whom we look after property for are thirty-somethings who bought property at the height of the market and need to have it rented so they can put money towards their mortgage. Some of them are based in the Middle East, others in Australia.
Q. What is the difference between letting and managing a property?
A. If I am just letting, after I have got suitable tenants for the landlord, I will hand them over the file. However, if I am managing the property I manage everything. The tenant will pay the rent into my business account, and the landlord will get a standing order on a monthly basis. If I manage your property, I manage your rents and the landlord never gets a phone call from a tenant. They don't even have the landlords contact number, only my number. I will look after all small jobs during the year, and the landlord will get the bill at the end of the year which they can then use for their tax returns. However, if there is a big job, let's say, a boiler needs to get replaced, I contact the landlord and inform him of the costing. I then endeavour to get the landlord the best job at the best price and the landlord pays for this separately and he gets all his receipts for his tax returns.
Q. What gives you the greatest satisfaction in this job?
A. I really like meeting people and you meet some really nice people in this job. One of the nice parts of this job is the way the care and attention you give to tenants is usually reciprocated by the condition they leave a property in. For example, when tenants are moving out I give them a "moving out checklist" and they go through the checklist and usually get every listing ticked off. This gives me the satisfaction of knowing that they were the correct choice for the property. Obviously, there will always be a bit of wear-and-tear, like marks on the wall or whatever. You sometimes have to remind a landlord that wear-and-tear is inevitable. What house does not have some marks on the wall after a 12-month period? So, I am very fair with clients.