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Property Manager’s Guide to Going on Vacation… and Avoiding a Lawsuit While Away

Taking time out to go on vacation can be difficult for Property Managers if you manage multiple properties simultaneously, it may not be possible to just drop everything and leave. If you’re a Property Manager, you need to ensure your property portfolio is in good hands while you’re away. Failure to do so could see you facing a lawsuit from a disgruntled tenant or landlord. 

Here’s a checklist of things you should do as a Property Manager before you go on vacation… 

Property Manager’s Vacation Checklist

This checklist will help you prepare for a stress-free vacation period with hopefully no calls from the office:

  • Arrange another contact at your office that landlords and tenants can speak to in your absence. This should be someone reliable and responsive that can take action if there are any urgent inquiries — not just someone to take messages.
  • Ensure all tenant, landlord and property information files are up to date and easily accessible to others in your office. 
  • If there are any pending issues at any of the properties you manage, such as current maintenance work, ensure your vacation contact is up to speed on everything. 
  • Ensure your vacation contact knows what delegations are currently in place for emergency repairs and maintenance. Some landlords allow maintenance and repairs to be arranged by the Property Manager without consultation if it’s valued under a certain threshold. This threshold varies across different properties, but under $500 or $1000 is common. Approvals from the landlord are, however, generally needed for larger repairs.
  • Advise your clients that you will be away. Take the time to give them a courtesy call or email to tell them what measures you’ve put in place to ensure their properties are still looked after and managed effectively. 
  • Set up an out of office message on your emails and your cell phone. Provide an alternative email or phone number that people can call if the inquiry cannot wait. 
  • If you are managing holiday homes or properties that are currently vacant, arrange for someone to check them while you’re away. Vacant properties can be particularly prone to squatters if left unchecked for long periods. This might not be a priority action if you’re away only for a few days, but it’s important if you’re planning to be away for a few weeks or more. 
  • Double-check your emergency trades/maintenance contractor contact list and ensure all contact details are up to date. This list should be available for your team in case an unexpected emergency occurs at one of the properties you manage. 
  • Before you leave, do a handover with your vacation contact so they are clear about what needs to be done. Tell them where they can find all the relevant files and provide key contact details for landlords and tenants. 

Risks for Property Managers if Things Go Wrong

All workers are entitled to holidays, of course. But, as a Property Manager, it’s important you are well-organized before you go. This minimizes the risk of you facing a future lawsuit. It also keeps clients happy and ensures that both tenants and landlords are well-supported while you are away. 

What could go wrong if you don’t do this? 

A Potential Claim from Tenants 

Imagine there’s a major emergency at one of your properties, and the tenant can’t contact you or your team to access help. They keep calling you as the Property Manager, not knowing you’re  on vacation overseas and have left your cell phone at home. 

What could have been an easy solution has now become a big drama, and the tenant’s belongings have been completely ruined from the deluge of water caused by a broken water pipe. They make a claim against you, the Property Manager, for damages. 

Keep in mind, it might not just be a tenant’s belongings that are damaged. Failure to do emergency repairs can cause health problems for the tenant. If the burst water pipe damage is not fixed in a timely manner, it might cause black mold. This can make the tenants unwell, and the property uninhabitable.

A Potential Claim from Clients/Landlords

Landlords are likely to be very unhappy if they’re paying you a monthly fee to manage their property, and the home isn’t being monitored while you’re enjoying a vacation. Landlords may sue for a range of reasons, including:

  • Failure to follow up unpaid rent
  • Failure to undertake emergency repairs, which then leads to more extensive damage to the property. 

Protect Yourself

As a Property Manager, you should have Property Management E&O insurance to protect your business.  CRES E&O + ClaimPrevent® policies provide premium coverage and you’ll have access to qualified real estate attorneys to help you prevent claims. CRES insurance policies can be tailored to suit the individual needs of your Property Management business. Contact the CRES team today at 800-880-2747 for a confidential discussion.

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