As you embark on the journey to financial freedom is Property Management, you will definitely want to make friends with the following four people. They can help you solve half the headaches of tenant management.
A LOCALISED HANDYMAN
It is normal that your tenant will call you from time to time to fix minor tear and wear items in your property. If you are staying on the other side of town, it will be difficult to get a contractor from one end to another to fix something minor. In addition, the bill will not be cheap.
Once I hurried a piping contractor from Kepong to Subang to fix a burst pipe, and it cost me RM200. The transportation charges made up of majority of the cost, but you are lucky to even get someone willing to do the job.
Suggestion: One of the first thing I will do upon securing a vacant possession is to find a localised handyman. My definition of handyman is a multi-tasker who knows a little about electrical, water piping, cement rendering, and simple carpentry work.
For high-rise buildings, I will get to know the condo/apartment maintenance guy. For landed property, ask for a referral from a neighbour for a garden-based handyman.
Tip: Look out for the blue uniform condo handyman today. Make sure you get his name and number right. Also, make sure he, too, saved your name and your unit number.
For high-rise properties, I would secure the freelance service of an in-house condo cleaner. Yes, I will identify and get the contact number of one of the more hardworking and trustworthy cleaners.
Therefore, instead of cleaning the unit all by myself whenever a tenant moves out, I will just give the cleaner a call. She helps me dump the clothes left behind, along with loose furniture and old mattress, and helps me clean the entire unit at a reasonable price of RM50 to RM80, depending on the size of the unit.
Tip: Remember to tell the cleaner that she can keep anything she wants from the pile and throw the rest away.
A 365-DAY CAMPING AGENT
After years of trial and error, I would prefer the services of a ‘Camping Property Agent’ these days. This refers to an agent who focuses 100% on one single property; he/she basically clocks in daily and will constantly be receiving potential tenants/buyers who are interested in viewing the property on a regular basis.
This Camping Agent has an unfair advantage over other agents because as they are close to the ‘battlefield’ they will get wind of the latest happenings before anyone else. They will be the first to know which unit’s tenant is moving out, and will also have ready tenants waiting to move in.
Of course, one of the major tasks of a Camping Agent is to maintain good relationship with owners so that one day when the owner would like to sell their unit, the Camping Agent will be among the first people they would call.
Tip: My units rented out or sold the fastest when using a Camping Agent – I just love them!
THE OFFICER AT THE MANAGEMENT OFFICE
It took me some years to recognise their importance. The advantages:
- When I call the management office, the officer, Mala, will give me priority over others, and this includes processing my car sticker and applying for aircon service, among others;
- The officer also helped me shut down a water meter over the phone without me having to drop by the office to fill up a request form to do so when my tenant failed to pay his water bills;
- She even called to inform me that my tenant has gone to the management office to put in an application to move out the next day. True enough, the tenant was hoping to quietly disappear after owing me two months’ worth of rental.
Tip: Take the opportunity to extend your gratitude to the officers during Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or Deepavali.
Heng Zee Soon is the Founder of Value Investing In Property (VIP) Programme, a programme that intends to help others to not make the mistakes he had made, and guide them to the right path in property investment. A certified professional trainer, Heng currently owns a string of properties ranging from commercial and office to residential.
A graduate in Human Resources Management from the University of South Alabama, Heng started his career with Price Waterhouse Coopers Malaysia, and has held various roles as General Manager and Country Manager.
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