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Advice for the n00b Apartment Manager
August 26, 2011 4:29 PM   Subscribe

What should I know about being an apartment manager in California?

My girlfriend and I have been approached by the current manager with the offer to take over when he and his wife leave. He doesn't seem to have many responsibilities beyond collecting the rent checks. (the maintenance man seems to handle everything else independently)

So, assuming that neither my girlfriend nor I have any experience in the field, what do I need to know, O Hivemind? What advice can you offer?

This question is deliberately vague because, frankly, I don't know what questions to start with.
posted by lekvar to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Do not not not get personally involved with your neighbors if you are the onsite manager. Full stop.

If you are already friendly with your neighbors,reconsider if you want to do this.

How many units? What style of architecture? What is the style of ownership?

What is the restof your life like? Do you have goals? Plans?
posted by jbenben at 4:45 PM on August 26, 2011


If you are already friendly with your neighbors,reconsider if you want to do this.

We get along with our neighbors, I don't know that we'd call any of them friends. Our kid plays with the neighborhood kids. We have community BBQs. Is that too involved?

How many units? What style of architecture? What is the style of ownership?

36 units, all pretty run down but not actively slummy. The architecture is, umm, 60's/70's renovated hotel? The owner wants as little to do with the place as possible; a management company handles the details. The one red flag that I can think of off the top of my head is that the owner and the handyman are buddies, which is why the handyman gets to work independently.

What is the restof your life like? Do you have goals? Plans?

Everything's on hold right now due to the economy.
posted by lekvar at 5:01 PM on August 26, 2011


College kids? Expect late night lockouts, like one per week. Also, what's the turnover rate? Think about how much time you might spend showing apartments to potential new renters.
posted by salvia at 8:07 PM on August 26, 2011


I managed apartments in CA for a couple of decades. I used to collect homilies about how be an apartment manager as I learned some severe lessons. I started managing units in a low-income area of a rich suburb, then moved to a more upscale but still a bit run down in the mouth set of units in an even wealthier area.
So, some of my pet beliefs in managing.
- caulk is a manager's best friend
- get over not having privacy. Folks will bang on your door at all hours.
- Be friendly but firm. Get used to being that way.
- Treat everyone who applies the same way: application, show the unit, credit check. The losers inevitably disqualify themselves if you have a good process. Getting tested for discrimination sucks. Treat everyone the same.
- John T. Reed has some books on managing rental units. Read at least 1. Invaluable guides to being in charge and how rental units should be run.
- People who fall behind on their rent never catch up, or almost never. Longer than 45 days and a process needs to start for them to find a new place to live. Don't fall into the trap of hoping they will get their s**t together.
- People won't be exactly your best friend as a manager, since you are the one representing the owners but if you are fair and consistent, they will work with you usually.
- There are people out there who are absolute nightmares as tenants. Be sensitive to signs of this during the application process: tales of woe, can't get in touch with previous landlords, always someone else's fault, tales of persecution, and so forth.
I've rented to schizophrenics who went into full-bore meltdowns, hookers, girlfriend beaters, boy friend beaters, deadbeats, cannabis farmers.....the whole parade plus a lot of really good folks. So, I've seen the gamut. Great way to save money on rent.
posted by diode at 6:20 AM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Listen to this week's "This American Life," called "The Super."
posted by bendy at 1:27 AM on August 28, 2011


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