Should there be a way for the tenants to contact me?

Should I have a email address for the tenants to contact me?Or have them run everything by the manager and the manager let me know about it.The dilemma I have is if I don’t give them any way for them to contact me and the manager goes out of control I might not know.But I don’t want to hear the nonstop B.S excuses from tenants.What do you guys do?

All issues should go through the manager first.  However I do tell my tenants (in the form of an annual letter that also covers any rule changes, rent increases, etc.) that if there is ever a problem, the can call me on x3 (also, if they want to become homeowners and upgrade from renting to RTO).  We use to distribute all our calls.  x3 is always me across all my properties.  That way if a manager is really screwing up, there is a ‘bleed off valve’ for the pressure for tenants to be able to contact me about what is going on.  That said, if tenants call me with any excuse about not paying rent, I tell them that they need to talk to the manager.  It works well.  I don’t get barraged every month with excuses from tenants.  I think you should do the same.  There is also a way to reach me through our websites, and my email is always included in that annual letter (it is, of course, a corporate email, not my personal email).-jl-

If you have to rely on the tenants to tell you the manager has gone bad, then you are in trouble. You should be tracking the manager’s performance weekly in the key drivers to profitability: 1) collections 2) rentals of vacant homes 3) water/sewer billing matching the bills. You should have the manager send you a video of the property monthly, or have a contact inside the park that you can call to make sure that the property condition is good (mainly that the grass is getting mowed). And you should show up unannounced at least twice per year. We spot our managers going bad early on, and get rid of them.You cannot trust what the tenants say about the manager. Most of them have personal agendas of hatred since the manager evicts them and enforces the rules. The calls you receive will be 99% nut cases if you distribute your number, and you’ll get them all night. So I wouldn’t do it personally. Instead, select someone inside the park who has a nice house and nice car, and call them periodically to see what’s going on, and let them call you direct in the case of emergency.

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Sorry to say it is a complete waste of time to have conversations with residents.Every time I do this, it is a hard luck story. No money, have to budget to get money to mow my lot, complaints about nothing, sounds drunk or drugged up and total B.S.In a severe situation, I call the tenant AND Block the number so they can’t call back.

Some states have laws concerning contact info that is required on all forms distributed to the tenants. In those states even if you wanted to hide- you could not. We default to giving our tenants our contact info. We use a Packet 8 voip system, email, and we also have a web form submission page on the back-end of our main web site where tenants can report something anonymously. We seldom hear from the tenants, and most of the time when we do it is information we want to hear. I use google voice on my phone for outgoing calls, and it dead ends back at our office phone if people call it back. I can also call out using the 8x8 voip app from my cell. I have never really understood why owners hide from the tenants. On my visits everyone knows who I am, and I am approached by almost no one. They are respectful for the most part, friendly and kind. They also pay my loans off each month, and put a fair bit of cash in my pocket… so I respect them back. If someone wants to talk, I listen. I figure my tenants are people just like me, and I have found many people I know lived in a park, or know someone who does or did. I do not look at myself as better that anyone- and do not look at anyone as better than I am. I see myself as lucky to apply my skills in a way I can own parks, but without the tenants- well- I would own dirt… sorry for the rant…  

The manager is the point of contact. There is a park phone number and it is on all forms and letterhead.
Even the manager tells tenants at my request- five minute time limit to report complaints and he will get back to them in 24-48 hours.
Yes of course they pay you and in turn have a place to live.
As I said every time I speak to tenants it is usually about not having money and doom and gloom.
How is this productive?

Brian- I say- if you view it as doom and gloom, and a tenants complaint is only worth 5 minutes of time- then that is ok.a few things- if you do business in Texas, and I own a few parks there, by law- the owners phone number and the owners address must be on every document a tenant gets. You can put the manager info on there as well, but you must have the owners info there. No other state we deal with requires this- but Texas does.Like you- our manager is the primary point of contact, and we encourage issues to go there first. If people call us, or email us, many times we just forward the complaint. Shoot- we are not onsite so most of the time I am the least qualified person to answer the question anyway.I look at life in a treat others in the manor I wish to be treated way. So- for many of my residents this is their home. I choose to not be dismissive to the issues my tenants have. I have even been known to host a dinner at a buffet for all of my residents. I take a table off in a corner, and any resident can come up to me and talk about anything they choose. Most of the residents have never been given a voice in recent memory, maybe never in their lives. For me, this is not like owning apartments, where I own the building. See- I own the dirt, but they own the homes. I feel they have a right, a real right, to take issue with things… and I have a duty to listen, to be respectful and maybe to make changes based on what they say. My dirt is there small city, their community, where they choose to put their home. It is not just a business to me.This is the very reason why I partner with few people, and I am not a part of ‘funds’ the buy parks. See- for me it is not all about business. I cringe at being accountable to shareholders stakes and maximizing shareholder interest. We all watch how that plays out in general life. I do not begrudge you for the way you do business- I respect it. You, like others, might look at me as a fool. That is OK as well. I have very thick skin and I learned long, long ago how to sleep well at night. I drum into everyone who works for me, ask any admins, managers or maintenance persons… I do not care how anyone treats us- we treat everyone with dignity, respect, kindness, soft voices, listening ears… we do not argue or confront. The big word is Grace- we treat everyone with Grace- period. again- that is how I choose to operate. For many it might be a waste of time, or seem- not productive. I see my tenants as people, real, valuable people… that deserve a voice in life just like I do… I am not right, others are not wrong, this just happens to be my business and life philosophy, shaped by my past and reshaped through each passing day… to answer you question on ‘productive’… well- I do not base everything on being productive- some things are based on a path that has nothing to do with being productive. So- it is not productive. On that point I concede… and I can live with that concession… 

It all depends on the type of park and clientele you have. If it’s a nice, upscale community, then talking to tenants is fine.However, if it’s a rough and tumble park with a lower demographic, my experiences have been the same as Brian’s. In our landlord/tenant relationship of the tenant owning his home and us renting the land, the only thing that the tenant can say to me that’s worthwhile is 1) the utilities are not working 2) the park is on fire and 3) the park just blew away in a tornado. Instead of respecting your time and intelligence, they will instead call and say 1) “I need to borrow money” 2) “the world has been invaded by space aliens” (normally when they’re on crack) 3) “I’m going to kill you” (normally when they’re being evicted) 4) “you need to evict my neighbor” (normally when the neighbor would not loan them money) and 5) “I’m locked out of my house/my wife is mean to me/nobody loves me” (normally when they come home drunk and their wife locks them out of the house – and this call always comes in at 3 AM). While I am required, by law and business sense, to provide a good community lifestyle, I am not required to be the concierge to the any of these call-in topics. If tenants would respect the luxury of only making legitimate calls for the purposes intended, then I would be happy to give them my home phone number. But instead, they simply abuse the system.I’m sure that all businesses suffer this same problem. I’m sure that Southwest Airlines gets calls from customers who have forgotten where they parked at the airport, or lost their car keys, or got drunk and need a ride home. However, Southwest has a 24-hour phone bank so it’s no big deal if every few calls is a nut case. But it’s a big deal to me to get a call at 3 AM.

I would never advocate as an owner giving your cell number or home phone number to the tenants. We give our business line and a business email account that is for tenants only. Granted, I do not have a hundred parks, or 10,000 spaces like Frank does- but I have received less than a handful of drunk or really out of whack calls. ( I only have 5 parks ) That would be less than one out of whack call per year. Even in eviction, the calls we receive are civil. I also do not have parks with huge drug issues, but I try to do enough research so I am not buying parks with drug issues. I know Frank has had issues in the past with certain states and tenants, and I am sure the issues he talks about were very real- I have just never experienced blanket issues with people based on the state they reside in or are from, based on their economic status or vocation, based on the level of their education or based on what kind of home they live in. 

Jim,Where are your parks located at – in Disneyland? Just kidding, but if you are getting only civil calls from tenants you filed evictions on, you must be adding valium to the park’s drinking water. I’ve been to at least 1,000 eviction hearings in my career, and even the executive in the business suit who lives in the McMansion goes ballistic when they get evicted.

My parks, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska and Indiana. Last year, out of all of our park removals we had one bad duck… We do not just send a notice and see you in court- we contact the tenants, try to work out a plan so they can be current. In short- we are nice to them all the way through the process. They might be upset, but we do not get calls, or emails that are rants. Even in the worst of times, things are pretty civil. I will also say, I almost never am in court. Since I have owned parks, I have attended maybe 3 evictions. One was my bad duck, but he too went away without too much of a hassle. The rest are managed by the managers and or attorneys. Maybe they call me less because I am not as involved as you are / were… as a thought… or maybe our process is different… or maybe the demographics of my park are different. In any case- my tenants are not near as animated as your Frank.   

1,000 evictions!?? That is like a world record for a landlord.Why do you go to court? Why can’t a lawyer or representative just do it all for you?

Narf,We use attorneys our managers. I am guessing having spent some time with Frank in the past, he is primarily referring to his early days when he was managing his own parks in the Dallas area- back in the day. Though, I did some math, and that would be one eviction daily for about 4 years (counting only days the courts would be open). I think Frank did about everything back then- so maybe he attended every eviction… I was thinking- 3 hours for every eviction… is like 375- full 8 hour days in court- that is about 1.6 years of work days… I went a few times and figured I should assign the duty or just pay an attorney… but everyone is different… 

I enjoy my paying tenants. If the ones paying the bills cannot contact the owner why are you in the business? With 136 units no evictions or late payments! Most management teams are not screening very closely that have trouble tenants–probably 45% are allowed to be tenants. It is much better to have an empty then to spent time in court. My tenants (attorneys, accountants, retirees) have my phone number and no I have not had ignorant calls. Buy the exceptional parks (they are less than !% of the group) and it is a beautiful experience! ,

I would just like to say thank you Jim, I like your style…

bwk-There is enough room for all types in this business- my way is neither right or wrong- though many will argue even that point. I feel very lucky and blessed to be an owner of parks, and I am honored to have been asked at the onset of this forum to assist in its moderation. (Mobile Home Park Store forum, and I came over with the merge of the boards). Thanks for the prop… 

That is what is so great about this forum, many different opinions and all in good faith.Where else can you go to discuss the mobile home park business??Not a single person I know where I live invests in this asset class and most think I am CRAZYwhen I mention it :))Happy investing to all!!!

Brian-Your point is well taken. One thing Mobile Home U did that I thought was great was a get together of like minded people. It might be worth thinking about holding an event someplace for a weekend where ideas can be shared, in person relationships can be formed and maybe even pick a few people from our ranks to speak on broad topics.back when I was presenting at the bootcamps the best times were meals, when we all could talk and share ideas and form friendships… anyways… just a thought… 

Excellent I am up for it.