Tell your owner/client clearly about your trust account requirements and how your state law regulates the management of those funds. NEVER cover their expenses and send them an invoice or you’ll be bankrolling them forever. Make it clear they need to pre-fund maintenance, maintain a minimum account balance (owner reserve) and keep all trust accounts positive. Let them know you will be depositing all funds you receive into a trust account and report to them monthly. This disclosure takes care of all those issues and gives you a document to point back to when they resist depositing money with you before you pull the trigger on normal maintenance and turnkey projects. This is often hard to manage because owners want to stay in control. They want to pay off an invoice, after the job is done, and they verify it. After the job is done is never the time to argue about money. Set this up right and you’ll have no trouble with the administration of your owner’s trust account. Make it clear that you intend to follow the licensing and trust account laws of your state and they need to embrace and cooperate with that effort or find another manager. You are no different than a bank, brokerage house or sales company. You must follow the rules of your licensing bureau and ‘having the money in the owners trust account BEFORE you order the work’ is part of that compliance issue.
“The longer you’re in property management the more you realize that it’s sticky, often hostile, sometimes even litigious. Over 35 years I’ve been burned many times by owners, tenants, vendors, staff and third parties and after the second or third time (I’m a slow learner) I would go back to the attorney and have her draft a document that prevents it from ever happening again. Blaming property managers has reached an all-time high and isn’t going away anytime soon. So, understanding this reality, smart managers need to spend extra time, money and effort building/crafting documents designed to protect themselves, even from the folks they are trying to serve. We’ve pulled these documents from our archives and have listed them here for your review and downloading individually (or in packages by topic). We’ve laid this material out in the Property Management Life Cycle categories for purposes of giving the discussion some order.
Protecting yourself from Owners is what these documents are all about.
Download (PDF, 417KB)
The Property Management Lifecycle by Crown Investor Institute LLC