Exceptions to Policy in Georgia Residential Property Management

on 05 November 2014

One of my agents recently asked me if we had a special form or process for dealing with landlords that wanted us to do some task or refrain from doing some task the essence of which was not adequately mentioned in the management agreement.  This was my answer: 

Whenever a landlord asks us to do something that is not what we ordinarily do, we call that an exception to policy.  Assuming that we have sound policies, why would landlords want us to change them?  Usually landlords want a change because they think it is best, but when they invoke this demand they really are not considering that the property management company has certain policies for a reason.  Perhaps they would be better served if they would subscribe without exception to those policies, or at a minimum ask why the policy is or is not in effect—could be a good lesson in the answer to that question.  

Here’s an example:  I had a landlord that wanted to offer the clothes washer and dryer to the tenants.  He thought it would make the house more appealing.  But what my experience has taught me is that such appliances are really not in high demand, so the landlord winds up having to remove them to satisfy a tenant applicant’s needs.  This is pretty easy if the landlord is available when this decision is made.  But we deal with many landlords that live out of state.  It’s not so convenient for them to make such last minute arrangements, and disposing of appliances is not a property manager duty. 

Sometimes the tenants do want the appliances, and when they do, the owner needs to recognize that the repair or replacement of these appliances become a necessary expense if they become nonoperational during the lease term.  Oftentimes landlords will instruct me to stipulate in the lease that such appliances would be provided but that any repairs would be the responsibility of the tenant.  In such cases, any non-operative appliances will be removed from the premises if the tenants elect to not opt in to repair them themselves. 

This solution presents two problems.  First, such a provision is unenforceable.  Under state law the landlord must repair or replace the appliances, and this cannot be waived by contract.  So, while we can put that language in the lease, if the tenant does not object, the landlord wins, but if they do, the landlord has no legal power to enforce the provision.  Second, if the landlord refuses to do a repair, the tenants may become unhappy with the rental and that may be the impetus that causes them to move when the lease term expires.  This creates a lose-lose situation for the landlord.  

Bottom line, trust the policies of your property manager or get another property manager that you can trust.  When you hire a professional, you should listen closely to their professional advice.  After all, it’s for that advice and experience that you had chosen them in the first place, right? 

Terri Clair
Cumming, Georgia
Managing Broker
3 Options Realty, LLC., CRMC®, The Green Broker
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The author of this Blog is neither an attorney nor an accountant.  Nothing written should be construed as legal advice.  Conclusions conveyed are outcomes based upon practical experience and should not be depended upon to be a common outcome of other similar circumstances. Consult with a professional before making tax or legal decisions about real estate in Roswell, Milton, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Woodstock, or any other municipality in Georgia..