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Are we being ripped off by our property management company?

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Are we being ripped off by our property management company?

Postby Winston » Sat May 31, 2014 10:48 am

In a nutshell, the water heater tank at our property in Henderson, NV broke and had to be replaced. Our property management company in Las Vegas, Management One Group, sent their service tech out to replace it. They charged us $1100, deducting it from our rent.

But we had a home warranty through HSA. So we called them and they said they would reimburse it, but only the amount that they would have paid to replace it. It turns out that they would have only paid $416 to replace the water tank, and are only going to reimburse that amount to us, minus $75 for a service tech fee.

So we are going to be reimbursed only 1/3 of the amount, plus we are going to be charged the service tech fee TWICE - once by Management One and again by HSA! Wtf? That doesn't seem to add up. Aren't we being charged twice?

This black lady I talked to from HSA Warranty today was rude and argumentative, and did not listen to me. She kept interrupting me and talking over me. She insisted we were not being charged twice for the service fee. But obviously we are. I got a bad rep this time from HSA because the first rep I talked to last month was much nicer.

Thus, not only are we going to be reimbursed for only one third of the $1100 that the property management company charged us, but we are going to be charged twice for the service fee too! Wtf?!

So are we being screwed over? What should we do? Any advice?

I'm also pissed that the property management company charged TRIPLE, or 300 percent, the normal rate that the warranty company would have charged. How can that be? It's like they are abusing their power and taking advantage of us. Or is the warranty company trying to cheat us too by underpaying the actual cost?

Here is the letter I sent today to our rep at the property management company:

-----------------------------------------------------

"Hi Alice,

It's Winston. I have three important things I need to talk to you about.

First, I called HSA Warranty to check the update of our claim. The operator said that in order for them to process our reimbursement, you need to send them an invoice. Here is their phone number, fax number and address to do so.

http://www.onlinehsa.com/Contactpage2.aspx

By Phone:
1-800-367-1448

By Fax:
1-877-638-1741

By Mail:
Home Security of America, Inc.
1861 Ludden Drive
Cross Plains, WI 53528

Can you send them the invoice they need? They told me to tell you that.

Second, HSA said they are only going to reimburse $340, which will be sent to your company. The total they would have charged for replacing the water heater tank would have been $416 they said, minus $75 for the service fee. They said the cost of the water heater tank itself was $280.

This means that the $1100 that you charged for this replacement, was nearly TRIPLE what they would have charged! How can that be?! You see, this is why I told you long ago that I prefer that you not send your service techs out, because you tend to charge double or triple the normal rate, which we have no control over. I'm sure if you were in our shoes, you'd feel the same way. Let me ask you this: If you went to a car mechanic and he charged you triple the normal rate to fix your car, would you want that? Of course not. So you must understand our position.

I understand your management company earns a mark up on such services. However, triple the rate, or 300 percent, is extreme and over the top. Where does the extra 66 percent markup go exactly? Correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems like taking advantage of us, as well as an abuse of power, which is obviously not conducive to mutual trust between us.

Is there any way you can be more reasonable about such things? I cannot believe that what you charge is triple what a normal warranty company would charge. It seems unreasonable.

Third, HSA told me that they are going to deduct $75 for the service fee that would have been paid to their service tech person that they would have sent out to do the work. However, as I understand it, you also charged something similar to send out your service tech to the property, right? If so, then aren't we being charged TWICE for the service fee?

Am I missing something? Something doesn't seem right about that. Only one of you should be charging that. Or it should be part of the reimbursement from HSA. However, the woman from HSA I talked to today had poor communication skills and was rude. She kept insisting that we were being charged only once for the $75 service fee, and not twice. Yet I count that we were charged twice, first by you and second by HSA. Both of you deducted the same service fee it seems. Yet the lady I talked to was in denial about it. There seems to be an error of basic math here. I'm confused.

Can you look into this and make a fair resolution to this? It's not fair to be charged twice for the same thing by two parties. One of you should be reimbursing the other. So something doesn't seem right about this. I will call them back and try to speak to a manager. But if they refuse to waive their $75 service fee for some reason, then can you please waive it or refund it, especially since you marked us up by 300 percent? Otherwise, all this seems grossly unfair, especially since we are only being reimbursed for 1/3 of this.

Moreover, technically HSA did not send any service techs out for us, so I don't understand why they need to deduct for it. This is supposed to be a reimbursement.

Anyhow, I'm kind of confused by this whole thing. Can you and HSA work this out, and can you please address all my questions above, so I don't have to repeat them again?

Thanks,
Winston"
Last edited by Winston on Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Repatriate » Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:39 am

Property management companies make a lot of additional income through charging much more through their "in house" techs and repairmen. This means all parts and labor is marked up by a lot. I thought this was common knowledge? Yes, you are getting "ripped off" but since you are in Vegas couldn't you have told the property management company that you can buy your own water heater and get it installed by your own guy? Then you could easily claim it with insurance and get fully reimbursed. You _don't_ have to go through your property management company for maintenance issues.

Btw, you never just give people an e-mail address and tell them to do something for you because there's a good possibility that it never gets done or things are delayed. Always ask for a copy of any type of business receipt even if it's getting sent to a third party. That way if they don't comply you can send it yourself.
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Postby Winston » Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:31 am

Repatriate wrote:Property management companies make a lot of additional income through charging much more through their "in house" techs and repairmen. This means all parts and labor is marked up by a lot. I thought this was common knowledge? Yes, you are getting "ripped off" but since you are in Vegas couldn't you have told the property management company that you can buy your own water heater and get it installed by your own guy? Then you could easily claim it with insurance and get fully reimbursed. You _don't_ have to go through your property management company for maintenance issues.

Btw, you never just give people an e-mail address and tell them to do something for you because there's a good possibility that it never gets done or things are delayed. Always ask for a copy of any type of business receipt even if it's getting sent to a third party. That way if they don't comply you can send it yourself.


Have you dealt with property management companies before? Are they like that everywhere? I got the sense that they profit a lot from doing repairs and maintenance.

How can that be common knowledge when it's not on CNN or network TV? lol. Plus most people do not rent out property or deal with such companies.

We could not take care of it ourselves because we didn't know who to call. The management company said it was an emergency and that the water leak from the tank had to be replaced right away within 24 hours. It's convenient that they profit from their own policies isn't it? lol

So my dad told them to go ahead and fix it. But later on he remembered that we had purchased home warranty from HSA. But by then, it was too late.

That's why we have to go for the reimbursement option.

Yeah I guess I will ask them to send us a receipt or invoice about the replacement done on the water heater tank.

MarkLambo told me that home warranty companies usually get the cheapest piece of shit they can find when they do replacements. So even if we had let them do it, they might have installed a low quality water tank. Is that true? If so, perhaps the actual cost is in the middle, somewhere between $416 and $1100.

Btw, when I Googled our property management company, I was shocked to see that it got so many negative reviews. On Yelp, virtually all the reviews were one star. And the BBB has many complaints about them too.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/management-one- ... -las-vegas
http://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/busi ... s-nv-78122

It's odd how the BBB will give a company an A rating even though it has so many complaints against it.
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Postby Cornfed » Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:00 am

Why do you use a property manager in the first place?
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Postby Winston » Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:03 am

Cornfed wrote:Why do you use a property manager in the first place?


Well duh. Because they have the means and resources to advertise, get renters, check their background, check their credit rating, financial status, etc. We can't do that. And they manage everything in general, including the disbursement of the rent payments, arranging lease contracts, property maintenance, etc.

Why else would people use property management companies?

Plus, my parents spend most of their time in Taiwan now, so they aren't here to do any property management even if they could.
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Postby Repatriate » Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:42 am

Winston wrote:Have you dealt with property management companies before? Are they like that everywhere? I got the sense that they profit a lot from doing repairs and maintenance.

Yes, Winston most of them are like that which is why it's better to be referred to a property management company that has a reliable track record and reasonable rates for emergencies like this.
How can that be common knowledge when it's not on CNN or network TV? lol. Plus most people do not rent out property or deal with such companies.

You can literally find tons of sites about being a landlord or information about renting out single family residences as investment property. Isn't Momopi knowledgeable in this? Why didn't you ask him for advice first..

We could not take care of it ourselves because we didn't know who to call. The management company said it was an emergency and that the water leak from the tank had to be replaced right away within 24 hours. It's convenient that they profit from their own policies isn't it? lol

If you don't know where to buy a water tank or how to get it installed then you have no business being in rental property. All these extremely expensive rip off repairs will add up and your overall cap rate will be low.


MarkLambo told me that home warranty companies usually get the cheapest piece of shit they can find when they do replacements. So even if we had let them do it, they might have installed a low quality water tank. Is that true? If so, perhaps the actual cost is in the middle, somewhere between $416 and $1100.

A quick look at home depot or Lowes' website will show you the answers that you seek. A quality water heater is about $450 or so. I don't know what kind of water heater was installed by the property management company but it's important you get the invoice and look up how much that costs so you have a good idea on how much the pmc is ripping you off for.

Btw, when I Googled our property management company, I was shocked to see that it got so many negative reviews. On Yelp, virtually all the reviews were one star. And the BBB has many complaints about them too.

So why didn't you look up reviews of this company PRIOR to using them as your primary pmc? Are you daft or what? Not looking at reviews for contractors, pmcs, or even a house painter is outright stupid. It's not like you dont' know how to use the internet.

Winston I helped renovate an entire house from the ground up and learned a lot about contracting and associated costs. If you did your homework and just looked online for information 99% of these issues would be avoided.
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Postby Cornfed » Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:13 am

Winston wrote:
Cornfed wrote:Why do you use a property manager in the first place?


Well duh. Because they have the means and resources to advertise, get renters, check their background, check their credit rating, financial status, etc. We can't do that. And they manage everything in general, including the disbursement of the rent payments, arranging lease contracts, property maintenance, etc.

All of those things are too entrepreneurial an activity to outsource. You should either do them yourselves or not directly invest in property. You could buy shares in a corporate property investor. If you use property managers when you are too incompetent to do the job yourselves anyway, of course they are going to rip you off. Why should they not? I thought Chinese were supposed to be smart in business.
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Postby Winston » Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:18 am

Repatriate,
Me and my family do not live in the US and are not planning to. So we need a management company. I do not have the resources that they do to advertise, find renters, negotiate leases, check backgrounds, etc. I prefer to leave that to the professionals. I don't have time for that kind of thing anyway. Come on. Get real.

I can't even finish my projects for this website and I was due in China long ago. So I can't be a property manager. Get real.

This management company was recommended to us by the real estate agent that sold us the house. We trusted him. He's a good guy. Even MarkLambo recommended them.

This management company isn't that bad. They do their job and deliver on what they say. So they do their basic job. The problem is that they overcharge for repairs and seem to revel in it.

I cannot find another management company in Vegas. They seem to be the only one.

But even if I could find another one, you told me that they all operate the same way right?

Yeah I will ask them for an invoice. Hopefully things like this won't happen much.
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Postby Winston » Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:39 am

Cornfed wrote:
Winston wrote:
Cornfed wrote:Why do you use a property manager in the first place?


Well duh. Because they have the means and resources to advertise, get renters, check their background, check their credit rating, financial status, etc. We can't do that. And they manage everything in general, including the disbursement of the rent payments, arranging lease contracts, property maintenance, etc.

All of those things are too entrepreneurial an activity to outsource. You should either do them yourselves or not directly invest in property. You could buy shares in a corporate property investor. If you use property managers when you are too incompetent to do the job yourselves anyway, of course they are going to rip you off. Why should they not? I thought Chinese were supposed to be smart in business.


No Cornfed. I cannot do what a property management company can do. They are professionals and have resources beyond what I can do. They found us a good quality renter very quickly. I was impressed. She had good credit and good financial standing. I met her and found her to be a high quality honest renter.

Be realistic. This is not my field. Even if I could, I don't have the time for it. Plus, I'm supposed to be "happier abroad" remember? lol.

I don't think it would look good to this movement if I stayed in the US to be a property manager. Duh. The guys here would not like that either. Remember?

Besides, it's a good arrangement. The management company takes a $75 cut from the $850 rent that we get, for its services. That's fine. As long as nothing breaks or needs replacing, it's all good. No problem.

The only problem is when something needs fixing or replacing. So we need to find a way of handling that without the management company. That's the only issue. Understand?

My aunt in Las Vegas owns multiple properties and office buildings, and she uses a property management company too. I think the same one. She is very shrewd so she must know what she's doing.

The trick is to seek a win-win relationship with other businesses, not to try to do everything yourself. That's how businesses prosper and succeed. Understand?
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Postby Winston » Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:55 am

Well I've decided to play a little politics here. I just posted a favorable 3 star review on Yelp for our property management company. I emailed them and told them about it, and told them that if they resolved this warranty reimbursement issue satisfactorily, I just might be persuaded to raise my rating to 4 or 5 stars. Hope that will give them some incentive. :)
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Postby Contrarian Expatriate » Sun Jun 01, 2014 11:41 am

I have found HSA policies to be worthless and wasteful. If you have a service policy, cancel it.

The other thing I do is have my property manager request my approval for any work to be done. I approve everything, and I often require them to obtain several service quotes instead.

Try to reign in the property manager who should not be making these decisions without your ok. Did you give the prop manager limited power of attorney? You may want to revoke and adjust it.
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Postby Devil Dog » Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:00 am

Winston, after reading the whole thread I have a few things to add:

1. The number that the warranty company is reimbursing is very low. That is no surprise because warranty companies in general are ripoffs. They make their profits by paying off as little as possible. Find out who the regulating authority is for the warranty company. Give them a chance to increase the amount which they will pay on this claim. Make sure that you know who to file the claim with (If you don't know then they will think you are bullshitting and will not follow through). Tell them that you have an attorney friend or relative who will help you draft the complaint. If they don't give you any satisfaction then file a complaint with the state Insurance Commission or Attorney General's Office (or whatever agency is appropriate) about the warranty company.

2. The $75 fee on $850 rent is a quite reasonable management fee.

3. Since the repairs were authorized then you have an uphill battle to fight. In that respect the management company is in good shape.

4. Request the receipts for the work and materials. Compare the price for the water heater to the price which it can be bought for at Lowes or Home Depot. Are you being billed by a plumber or by your management company? See the comments about fiduciary duty below.

5. Check the Property Management Agreement to see it specifically allows the PM company to use their own maintenance employees (if they indeed did that) for repairs on your property.

6. The property management has a fiduciary relationship with the property owner. In a nutshell that means that they have the legal obligation to protect the property and money of the property owner. If they allowed you to be overcharged or made a profit on the repair which was not specifically allowed by the property management agreement then they have violated that fiduciary relationship. If you think they violated that relationship then talk to them about getting the price reduced and make it clear that you will file a complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Commission if they do not work with you.

Responding to a Real Estate Commission complaint is not fun, and it is something which will require hours of time from the Broker in Charge at the management company. If they think you have a case then they will want to make you happy, but unless they are amateurs then you probably don't have a case that will cause them a problem.

I spent about 15 years in real estate brokerage management (and ownership). My property management department managed 300+ individual residential properties. One more thing that I will add is that I was never comfortable with the concept of having an in-house maintenance department which was a profit center. In my opinion that set up a conflict of interest which could violate my fiduciary responsibility to the client (property owner). I don't know whether your PM company has this setup, but if they do then it is your best avenue of attack.
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Postby Repatriate » Sat Jun 07, 2014 5:32 am

Winston wrote:Repatriate,
Me and my family do not live in the US and are not planning to. So we need a management company. I do not have the resources that they do to advertise, find renters, negotiate leases, check backgrounds, etc. I prefer to leave that to the professionals. I don't have time for that kind of thing anyway. Come on. Get real.

Stop lying Winston. You spend a lot of time driving around the southwest going on long nature hikes and generally doing nothing except dining at Vegas Buffets. I know for sure this is what you are doing because it's all you ever talk about and others who know you in real life say you aren't doing much. Just think of it this way, were the long nature hikes worth the hundreds of dollars (perhaps thousands in the future) you lost for not spending a relatively insignificant amount of time to do proper due diligence in business matters?

The issue here is you're just lazy and don't want to apply your effort in things that do matter. You seem to have plenty of time to create attack websites because you got owned by a couple of whores at a brothel but you don't want to pay attention to current losses right in front of your face.

Also, I predict right now that your response will be predictable. You'll lash out once again at people like me trying to help you out and show you the truth instead of enabling your eccentric lazy behavior.
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Postby Winston » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:24 am

Contrarian Expatriate wrote:I have found HSA policies to be worthless and wasteful. If you have a service policy, cancel it.

The other thing I do is have my property manager request my approval for any work to be done. I approve everything, and I often require them to obtain several service quotes instead.

Try to reign in the property manager who should not be making these decisions without your ok. Did you give the prop manager limited power of attorney? You may want to revoke and adjust it.


Yeah we will not extend it after their bad policy and undercutting on reimbursements. The black lady in their customer service was argumentative and cold too. But the white lady I talked to last month was far more kind and friendly. Funny how it depends on who you get.

Yes they did get our approval first. We had no time to think though, because it was an emergency water leak on that hot water heater, and had to be taken care of right away. With no time to think, we told the management company to just fix it, and forgot about the HSA warranty.

Our tenant said that in retrospect, she could have just went to Lowes and taken care of it and sent us the invoice. Funny how clear everything is in retrospect. But for some reason, people like Repatriate and Rock can never understand concepts like this or basic human psychology, because they are bullies who thrive on tearing others down. It's very sick and dysfunctional.

Should we not have any home warranty at all? Which warranty company do you recommend?

Is HSA the same company all over? It's national?
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Postby Winston » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:39 am

Devil Dog wrote:Winston, after reading the whole thread I have a few things to add:

1. The number that the warranty company is reimbursing is very low. That is no surprise because warranty companies in general are ripoffs. They make their profits by paying off as little as possible. Find out who the regulating authority is for the warranty company. Give them a chance to increase the amount which they will pay on this claim. Make sure that you know who to file the claim with (If you don't know then they will think you are bullshitting and will not follow through). Tell them that you have an attorney friend or relative who will help you draft the complaint. If they don't give you any satisfaction then file a complaint with the state Insurance Commission or Attorney General's Office (or whatever agency is appropriate) about the warranty company.

2. The $75 fee on $850 rent is a quite reasonable management fee.

3. Since the repairs were authorized then you have an uphill battle to fight. In that respect the management company is in good shape.

4. Request the receipts for the work and materials. Compare the price for the water heater to the price which it can be bought for at Lowes or Home Depot. Are you being billed by a plumber or by your management company? See the comments about fiduciary duty below.

5. Check the Property Management Agreement to see it specifically allows the PM company to use their own maintenance employees (if they indeed did that) for repairs on your property.

6. The property management has a fiduciary relationship with the property owner. In a nutshell that means that they have the legal obligation to protect the property and money of the property owner. If they allowed you to be overcharged or made a profit on the repair which was not specifically allowed by the property management agreement then they have violated that fiduciary relationship. If you think they violated that relationship then talk to them about getting the price reduced and make it clear that you will file a complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Commission if they do not work with you.

Responding to a Real Estate Commission complaint is not fun, and it is something which will require hours of time from the Broker in Charge at the management company. If they think you have a case then they will want to make you happy, but unless they are amateurs then you probably don't have a case that will cause them a problem.

I spent about 15 years in real estate brokerage management (and ownership). My property management department managed 300+ individual residential properties. One more thing that I will add is that I was never comfortable with the concept of having an in-house maintenance department which was a profit center. In my opinion that set up a conflict of interest which could violate my fiduciary responsibility to the client (property owner). I don't know whether your PM company has this setup, but if they do then it is your best avenue of attack.


Well I'm not gonna threaten a lawsuit. That's jumping the gun. And it sounds like a bluff too. No one would sue for $1100.

Yes the management company does have their own maintenance staff, and I think in the agreement, it says that they can use them if they have to. So they do make profits on repairs, big ones it seems. In that sense, there is a little conflict of interest. Hopefully repairs will not be needed very often.

This company has been around a long time and is very popular here, so they aren't amateurs.

I'm trying to get an invoice for their repairs, but they don't seem to want to give me one.

I wrote my management company and told them that everyone said that a water heater costs $200 - $300, and that they were charging us TRIPLE the standard rate. Here was their response:

Actually, that is not accurate, Winston. An individual can sometimes purchase a small water heater from Home Depot or Lowes for about $600 - $700. Then you would need to find someone to install, hall the old one to the dump, pull the required City of Las Vegas permit, purchase and install earthquake straps and new plumbing lines.
The cost of those additional items would total more than what our licensed contractor charges.
Thanks


Is that true? Why are their numbers so different than what everyone else told me? How much does it cost to dispose of an old broken water heater? What would Lowes have charged for all that?

They were glad that I wrote a good review for them on Yelp though, so they appreciated that and will try to work with me. Hopefully that will motivate them to be more fair. Sometimes positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement.
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