“Who’s My Manager?”: How We Transition Properties With Inherited Tenants

Imagine picking up the phone, and the voice on the other end of the line tells you that your landlord isn’t your landlord anymore. You have a new management company now. Oh, and you have to start paying rent to them.

You might be left thinking, “Is this a scam?,” “Who even owns my house?,” or “Am I going to have to move?”

Onboarding inherited tenants is one of the trickiest and most sensitive parts of our work at Castle.

If a property is sold to a new owner, or the owner changes management companies, the tenant is usually the last one to know. So they are expected to start paying rent and reporting maintenance issues in a completely new way, with very little warning.

For us, this process is all about establishing trust and open communication. We work diligently to build a relationship with tenants and onboard them into the Castle system. How do we do it?

1. Connect

First we call the residents to introduce them to the Castle team, go over the terms of their lease, and check to see if they have any ongoing maintenance issues. We follow up with a packet of information in the mail and over email. We’ll always offer to let tenants see a copy of our Management Agreement, showing that we are legally responsible for their property.

What helps Castle onboard an inherited tenant quickly?

  • Up to date contact information–include an email address when possible
  • Ample time for the management transition, preferably 1-2 weeks before the next rent cycle
  • Asking your former property managers to send a notification to the tenants, informing them that Castle will be their new point of contact

2. Empower

We want our system to be as user friendly as possible. Tenants have two options for rent payments: online accounts and MoneyGram. Every month we send automated rent reminder text messages so that they know when rent is due and how much they owe.

If they have a smartphone and email address, we get them set up with a Castle tenant account. These accounts are used to stay up to date on rent payments, access their lease and our online resources, and even report maintenance issues.

3. Test

Frequently, we take over properties that have many outstanding maintenance issues, which means we inherit those grievances. We take a record of tenants’ maintenance concerns, and send a contractor to address them right away. This is an important step to build trust and ensure that the property is not in violation of the warranty of habitability.

Sometimes we work with tenants who are used to a more informal system from their old property manager, and need time to adjust their rent payment habits. After a tenant misses a rent payment, we send a Demand for Possession, Nonpayment of Rent (or “7 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.”). If the seven days expire without payment, a court date is set for sometime in the future. Tenants can pay rent with the late fee at any point before the court date, and the court case will be dismissed. If a case does make it all the way to court, the judge will either demand payment or demand that the outstanding maintenance is addressed.

4. Autopilot

From this point forward, we embrace the right to quiet enjoyment! We’re available to step in anytime there’s a maintenance issue or related concerns, but we want everyone to be comfortable in their homes.

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