This week Farnaz shares her comments around the perception of agents in the industry and some of the misconceptions around legal obligations for tenants and owners. As we all know, moving house is one of the top most stressful events in most people's lives and this can cause frayed nerves and emotional reactions all round if not handled appropriately on both sides.
With over thirty years of experience in property, Farnaz has seen her fair share of the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of property management and dealing with tenants. She talks about how the property industry in the UK is hampered by the low barrier to entry for new agents, with very little training needed in comparison to the US where agents are trained for two years before they are allowed to operate in the real estate industry, and how this impacts the general perception of agents as a group.
She recommends what to look for in a good property management agent or company and gives tips on the importance of communicating with tenants, especially when it comes to dealing with a problem at the property.
As always we love to hear your feedback. Have you experienced negative reactions as an agent, or had a less than positive experience as a tenant? Share your thoughts and comments with us on our social media platforms or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Unknown Speaker 0:00
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Farnaz Fazaipour 0:11
To be an agent, you really need to have thick skin. Because it is a role where you are Kind of the punching bag for both sides. Moving home is a very, very stressful time in most people's lives. Basically, you need, you need to be prepared to take the stress without taking a person that needs to be like water off a duck's back. Because the chances of you in every transaction being punched are pretty high. Agents, generally speaking, don't have the best reputation. And I think that, you know, you, you you go into any meeting, it's it almost feels like you're guilty until proven innocent. So most of us really like to work on recommendations, because the stories already been told, and the person who's coming to you is coming to you, because they've been told to come to you. And, and, and, you know, whoever whoever's recommended them to you has recommended them to you because they actually value what you do. And personally, I really only like to deal with people who have been sent to us personally, because after 30 years, your your tolerance for being the punching bag kind of starts to deteriorate, you need the youth for for all that bounce back. So the reason I think that agents are not regarded highly, it's first of all, because there is no barrier to entry. So there are a lot of people out there who just have a telephone and call themselves agents. And they're giving advice to people who making the biggest investment of their life. And they're giving this advice based on on very little substance sometimes. And that's the danger that that we all deal with is the perception generally of agents is that people don't feel that agents are being genuine or giving the right advice. So this is this is why I think that you know, you're guilty before innocent is a really good way of explaining it. And when you look at other markets, like if you look at America, these people who become brokers over there, they actually go through two years of training, and they understand everything. And they handle the transaction as a professional, so you don't go to your doctor or to your lawyer or to your accountant and question what they know or not trust what they say. So I think that if we went towards a market where agents had to be educated, then it will be a far better industry for everybody. And, you know, all the best agents are the ones who actually self regulate, and they they learn all the time, they go to development, seminars, and they take courses and and they self regulate themselves. And you can see, you know, the ones who are actually dedicated the job have been around for decades, I think that in no job, you should be badly treated. And in every job, you should be respected. But the frequency of not being well treated and not being respected when your property manager is high. So property management, as a lawyer told me only a couple of weeks ago, when we were having issues in the building with the property manager, he said, You know, it's a really thankless job. And basically, your job as a property manager is to solve problems. So you're basically dealing with people at the height of their frustration. And every time you answer the telephone is because somebody wants to complain about something that's not working, they feel that I'm paying lots of money to rent this property. And I want this fixed now. So you have to really, you know, in the lightest possible way, educate the tenants into behaving in a tenant like manner. And this is something that I find happens more and more and more in the more expensive homes because when somebody's paying, you know, 10 12,000 pounds a week, they expect to have a concierge service. So that management between what is a landlord's responsibility which really boils down to mechanical electrical sanitation, you know heat and water supply. Does not really you know, it's not an emergency if your Wi Fi is not connecting to your you know, widescreen TV On a bank holiday Monday, but when someone's paying 12,000 pounds a week, they don't care about those details. So there's a fine balance here between keeping that tenant happy, so that they stay longer for your client in the property, and politely educating them into how they should manage their expectations.
Farnaz Fazaipour 5:22
So, yes, a lot of property managers feel that they're badly treated. But what I always tried to say, and this is, this is something that's personality related, not everybody can do it. But I always just tell people to just ignore it. It's not, it's not personal to you, you know, my father always used to say to me, nine times out of 10, when you think someone's got a problem with you, it's because they have a problem. So if you think about it, from those points of view, then, you know, it could actually be quite character building, you know, you can really learn a lot about yourself and about the way you treat people, when you are in the stressful position, at least have stressful jobs, if the conversation could be a lot smoother if both sides understood the regulations around property management. So you've got two different types of management, obviously, you've got building management, and then you've got individual unit management where people are renting. So the building managers I call the FYI, because every time you get an email from a building manager, it's sort of FYI. And then it's up to you to read everything that's been going on in the in the trail. And I guess the reason that that happens, is because building managers are dealing with lease holders who are the owners of the properties, so they're much more invested. So they expect that they're going to get into a lot more detail. But I also think that the building management, the way that it works is flawed. Because you know, these building managers, they charge something like 250 to 350 pounds per unit, and they earn the majority of their income from the fees they charge for managing the works. So my mind, even if the works are required, there's already a feeling there, that the lease holders the freeholders may perceive that the building managers are basically encouraging you to do works, because that's how they earn the majority of their income. And this is actually a subject that I've been trying to speak to building managers about, but nobody's willing to talk to me about it. And I just think that, you know, this, it is flawed, the charging system is flawed, and it should be more aligned with the interests of the people who are paying the fee. So instead of paying 250 350 pounds per unit, for someone to manage your building, you know, it should really be revisited. You know, either it's worked worked out on, on the basis of how well they keep your building, but they get rewarded, and how little work. You know, they, they, they don't allow deterioration, and they keep on top of it. But it's definitely something that, you know, people who know more about this than I do, should address and change. So that's the building managers. But in both the building managers and the individual unit management, you do get a lot of, you know, people being frustrated, because things are not working. So again, I think the more you know, the more you understand the law, the more you can have, you can turn these conversations down and bring heated discussions down. One thing that a lot of tenants don't realise is that the law expects them to behave in a tenant like manner. And what that means is you treat the home, like your own. And what would you do on a Sunday? If, for example, your sink was leaking, and it was dripping? Would that be a big emergency that you try and go find a plumber and pay out of hours calls for to come and fix the leak? Or would you put a bucket underneath and wait till Monday morning. So you know, there's a lot of that that the law actually expects a tenant to do. And a lot of the times, you know, due to lack of experience or due to just not knowing the right solutions or how to guide the tenant to fix it on the phone. These things escalate and then they become costly. And if you actually look into the marketplace and try and find a company who does management really, really well, you'd struggle. I think to be a good property manager, you need to be someone who's got a lot of experience and is meticulous, has great follow up and has a great black book of contacts. Because a lot of times what happens with management is you get let down by the third parties, but then the buck stops with you. So you will get all the stress from On where, you know, the plumber went and didn't have his equipment or went to order apart and didn't come back or, you know, somebody was late because another emergency came up, so they didn't turn up on time. So a lot of the times, so, you know, communication is key. So one of the things that they always tell you from the ombudsman schemes that regulate the industry, they say, keep communicating. So even if you're saying to, to the tenant, that he's in a traffic jam, you know, he's still in a traffic jam, the traffic jam hasn't stopped, but at least you're communicating. So the person doesn't feel like nobody's dealing with them.
Farnaz Fazaipour 10:42
But I think that as the services improve, and the communication with the service providers improve using technology, then property management will become easier. The reporting, so you know, when a tenant reports something, if you're able to help them over the line, if you're able to get on a video call, you know, and as I say, again, if you have really reliable contractors, then that will make the process more efficient. And hopefully, we'll get to a point where, you know, there will actually be specialist doing the job and doing the job well, rather than individual multi landlords who who do it because it's to their benefit to make sure that their properties are well managed, so that the tenants stay, because a happy tenant is a good tenant Nazz, that's really key. You know, if every time you get screamed out, and every time someone blames you for something that's completely out of your, your control, you get upset, then you know, it's very, very horrible job to be in. So if you are in that job, and if you want to do that job, because actually, you know, the income from management is constant. So it's not like deals where you do a deal, you don't do a deal, income from management is month on month, a month, and actually, the value of a company is much more dependent. If it lettings company is much more dependent on the number of manage properties they have, because that is their certainty and income. So if that is the direction that you want to go, I would say, lots of communication, great contractors, and, you know, keep talking to your tenants and keep explaining to them what's happening, and what could go wrong, you know, I have told the plumber to come if his car doesn't write down, and if he doesn't get stuck, stuck in an attic, in the traffic jam, and if another emergency doesn't come up, he should be with you at such a time, just keep that conversation going.
Farnaz Fazaipour 12:45
And I think the way that you can turn that, to help yourself. If it is a job that in fact, you want to continue and you know, make it a career is to take each problem as a challenge. How am I going to calm this person down? And how am I going to get them to see what really is the correct point of view, and you know, get them on side. So you turn it into into a bit of a game for yourself so that you can cope. You know, going back again, communication is key. If you document everything you do, then when somebody is screaming and shouting at you because something's gone wrong. But you've documented everything you've done from the beginning to now you can just bring their attention to something you've told them about. And nobody can argue if they've already been told, right? They can say you never told me. But they can't say you never wrote that to me. So a really good practice. And this is something I mean, you know, we've all been through all the stresses, I mean, I've been doing this for 30 years, and I remember being tears in the beginning, because of the things people used to say to me in that way. But you have to keep changing your system. So when something goes wrong, you change your system, your personal system, and you adapt it so that the next thing the next time, the same kind of thing goes wrong, you're already prepared.
Farnaz Fazaipour 14:08
So part of my training, which was which was my father was used to tell me at the beginning of my career in the industry, every time I had a telephone call with somebody, he's like, put it in writing, I just got a phone with the guy. It's like putting in writing. So it literally came to the point that you know, I was literally writing to people saying it was so lovely speaking to you a minute ago, and I'm gonna do this and then I'm going to do that and you said this, and I said that, and then it became becomes a habit. And it's a habit that is really useful if you want to stop people from shouting at you from getting crossed with you, because you've done everything you're supposed to do. And you can show it and you can refer back to it. So really, I suppose the best thing I can say is that if you are in this industry and you find it stressful and you do think that people should treat you with more respect and they don't you to tidy up from your site, you know, help always comes from within, even in this. So you tidy it from your site. So make sure that every time something goes wrong, you put in a system for yourself that if this happens again, how could I have prevented it, and then make that as part of your process. And it does come with experience, because when you first start in the business, you want to take everything that comes your way, you don't want to say no to people. But as you become more established, and as you have a bit more choice in the business that you take, and you don't take, you just very simply say to people, I mean, what I usually say to people is, I can't help you anymore, because you clearly don't think that I'm capable, or I'm doing a good job. So I recommend that you take your business, and you take it somewhere else. If you feel that everybody's giving the same service, please come back. And we'll we'll welcome you back with open arms. But go right ahead and try it somewhere else. And if you have any questions and you want to know what we think or how we can help you we're always here I will answer your calls. And you know, I think a lot of times in in challenging situations, you know, you actually have to turn it on its head and reacts in a way that kind of makes people stop and think, Well, that wasn't what I was expecting at all. And then they will reassess their own situation.
Unknown Speaker 16:28
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