When you rent an apartment or commercial space, you lease the property directly from the landlord. However, many landlords use property managers as intermediaries to manage properties. Property managers:
- Collect rent
- Mail late notices
- Oversee evictions
- Coordinate move-ins and move-outs
- Respond to maintenance requests
- Assist residents with lock-outs
- Provide upkeep services such as landscaping
Landlords often own their property for investment purposes, and they do not want to be saddled with the stresses of caring for a property and responding to tenant issues. Thus, landlords will usually hire individuals or companies to manage the property for them. The property manager then becomes the main point of contact for the tenant in connection with the property, not the landlord.
When you rent a home, you want to be able to enjoy your space quietly and safely. You want everything in the home to work properly. And when an issue arises, you want it dealt with in a satisfactory and timely manner. However, property managers do not always properly manage apartments, choosing to place profits over tenant satisfaction instead. Common property management disputes include:
- Eviction and illegal eviction issues, such as changing the locks, placing tenant property on the curb, forcefully removing tenants from premises, and pursuing past-due rent using shady collection practices
- Failure to respond to maintenance issues quickly and thoroughly
- Failing to maintain the premises up to code, such as failing to exterminate rodents, fix holes in the walls, maintain adequate lighting in hallways, or fix leaks that result in mold
- Entering the apartment without lawfully required notice
- Refusing to resolve neighbor disputes
- Failing to properly screen employees
If you have run into an issue with your apartment and the property manager has failed to fix the issue or has fixed the issue unsatisfactorily, you do have the right to pursue legal damages depending on the type of issue.
Property managers must follow exact steps and requirements as outlined in state and local law for renters who are behind on payments. Property managers cannot immediately lock you out of your apartment because you are a few days late on your rent payment. If the property manager fails to follow the state requirements, you can sue for wrongful eviction, which allows you to request to be reinstated in the apartment and receive damages.
If the property management company fails to maintain your apartment to code or fire hazard standards, you can first seek legal recourse through your city’s housing code violation inspector. An inspection of your apartment will be performed, and your landlord will be informed by the city that any housing code or building code violations will need to be remedied within a certain amount of time or the property manager will be required to pay fines. However, a housing code violation report does not give you the legal right to immediately break your lease. You must give your landlord time to fix the issues before you can pursue a legal action in court.
If you are worried that you will be wrongfully evicted, your personal property will be damaged, or the property management company will continue to take your rent check each month without fixing any issues, you need to seek the advice of a property lawyer immediately. This type of lawyer is well-versed in local landlord-tenant law and can guide you through the proper process for disputing issues with your property management company.