Have you ever noticed suspicious behaviors of resident managers and maintenance crew and wondered whether or not they should be doing what they do? Although some things are not written in your lease contract, there are rules that staff are suppose to follow internally and you wouldn’t know it unless you knew someone who worked on the inside. When you see any of the staff at your property doing the following things, notify corporate headquarters or the property owners. However, if you rent from a private owner, they may not have any specific protocol, but you should make them aware anyhow. Sometimes the owner is the one at fault and if so there are states' laws that every landlord is to follow. You will need to contact your local government for a handbook that lists those laws and your rights.
One. The on-site laundry facilities, gym equipment, business center, pool, or other areas being used by management for personal reasons.
You may have seen your property manager firing up the grill for a party, maybe swimming in the pool with friends, or washing his or her clothes in the laundry room, unless he or she is an on-site manager that lives at the apartment complex, they shouldn’t be doing it. You are paying for those amenities and they are meant to be enjoyed by the residents not the staff. It is an inconvenience to the residents living onsite that need to wash their clothes or have a celebration in the party room and the staff are using them. Do everyone a favor in your building and report them to corporate headquarters when you see them doing it.
Two. Managers and maintenance entering your apartment without residents knowing about it.
You are away at work not suspecting that anyone would be looking around in your apartment. Then one day you come home to discover that something in your apartment is out of place. You call the main office and they tell you that one of the maintenance men were checking for leaking faucets that day. Proper protocol should have been to leave a note by the one who had entered your apartment. Even better, some companies will notify you with a letter at least a week in advance letting you know that someone will be entering your apartment for routine maintenance. However, for emergencies there is no time to let you know in advance, but staff is still expected to leave a note letting you know when they came into your apartment and what they did while there.
Three. Management and maintenance staff inspecting residents’ trash.
Sometimes residents will leave trash in places they shouldn’t have, if you are one of those residents stop it. But if you do, maintenance is not allowed to go through your trash to find out who left it, remove plastic containers, or look for some hidden treasure. There are always those cases where trash will tip over, break, or come open and will need to be cleaned up. However, you are responsible for properly disposing of trash. Some managers will issue warnings then later serve evictions to residents for property damage.
Four. Management or staff removing packages or mail placed by the mail carrier from a resident’s mailbox or front of their door.
This one is tricky. Let’s say you have a good relationship with management and he or she was concerned about your package sitting out in front of your door for days at a time, they may remove it and take it to their office. You may have been away for awhile and your mailbox is full, so management may remove your mail at your request. However, many will not touch your mail or packages no matter how full your mailbox gets or how long a package stays outside of your door. The reason for this is that they do not want to be held responsible if your mail or package is damaged, stolen, or lost. When you are out of town it is better to designate a loved one, friend or neighbor to clean out your mailbox for you if it should overflow. The mail carrier may give the overflow of mail to management, but not always. He or she may leave a note indicating that you will have to pick up your mail at the post office.
Five. Staff showing up announced at a resident’s apartment for personal reasons or entering it unannounced such as helping themselves to some food or watching television.
When you moved into your new apartment, the last thing you expected was to be harassed by management or maintenance about going out on a date, attending an event, joining a business opportunity, visiting a church or whatever other reason they felt it was necessary to knock on your door almost daily. You also didn’t expect that someone from the staff would abuse their privileges of entering the apartment without you being at home. In situations like this, you will want to notify the corporate office and if they persist, contact your local law enforcement.
Six. Management failing to acknowledge a resident’s requests within a 24-48 hour period.
It should never take any longer than three days for anyone to get back to you about a work order request. Efficient staff will respond either that same day depending on how early you called or by the following day. Residents should never have to wait weeks at a time for a request to be granted. If you find that no matter what you ask for management just doesn’t seem to be on top of your requests, you will have to notify their boss or better yet, check your local business directory for an organization that handles tenant and landlord disputes.
Seven. Managers threatening or harassing a resident about rent.
Most states will give you a thirty day notice before they evict you. If you find that you notified management a week in advance about paying rent late and they are calling you a week later about the rent, you will want to remind them that you are aware of your rights and that you will have the rent as soon as you can. The reason why they want you to have it on the day you may have promised is because they know they have a deadline to meet when it comes to filing court papers against you. You will want to re-read your lease to find it if there are any points you may have missed regarding the payment of rent. Also, find out what your state’s laws are in regard to late rent payments.
Eight. Managers failing to make residents aware of rent increases, lease renewals, changes in management and other things related to their lease contract.
You should not be suddenly told that the property is being bought, your rent will be increased next month, and other similar things without receiving a formal notice from management. Anything that may affect your stay should always be made in writing. Never assume anything without contacting management for yourself or requesting to speak with someone at corporate headquarters. Managers are supposed to give you this information if you request it.
Nine. Managers allowing outside contractors to come into resident’s homes while they are away without staying with them or letting them know they have been there.
You may have a problem with your phone line, need cable turned on, or some other issue, management is never suppose to give outside contractors your apartment key for them to let themselves into your home. Rather, someone from the staff should be escorting the contractor through the property and unlocking the door for him or her. Most staff will leave your apartment door open while they are in your home as a safety precaution and so that you are not startled if you should come home early. They are also expected to leave a note or call you to let you know that they were in your apartment.
Ten. Managers copying master keys and leaving them with a resident’s family or neighbors.
If you as a tenant choose to leave a copy with your family or neighbor that is your business, but managers should never leave copies of your keys with anyone without your written request to do so. If there is some kind of lock out program enforced, then there may be a reason why someone onsite needs to be available to let people into their apartments. Otherwise, if there is no such program and you are not made aware that someone other than staff has a copy of your apartment key, then they are violating your rights. Once again, notify corporate headquarters, the property owners, or your local police about the matter.
When you live in an apartment complex, know what is going on with management and your neighbors. Read the company newsletters, if they have any, and know about any upcoming changes that may be happening in management and on the property. Also, be friendly with at least one of your neighbors by waving, helping them carry something, knocking on their door if mail was mistakenly placed in your box or you noticed something strange. Keep your ears open to rumors and call management to confirm the truth. When you make attempts such as these to get to know the people in your community, they may be helpful to you in the future by watching your property, assisting you when you need help, and keeping you informed of the latest happenings.
By Nicholl McGuire