Episode 3
January 26, 2023
Jessica Marks, Senior Property Manager - Roofstock

Jessica Marks talks about endangered guests that can drive you batty


What happens when you have an unwanted guest on the property you can't make leave? Jessica Marks explains how to handle endangered species, without getting into danger. She also covers the tech tools that make life easier as a PM, but nothing can equip you for when the problems come from out of this world. Like when your resident is abducted by aliens.

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Host - Welcome back to The Property Management Mentor, powered by Let Hub. I’m your host, Cayenne. We talk Con Oddities and stories in the PM space. 

Guest - I have encountered times involving Bats. 

Host - Jessica Marks is in single family Rentals. She’s been in the industry for 20 years and is founding Jay Marks Consulting. Let’s get into it. 

Guest - Sounds good. 

Host - We’re gonna drop right in with a mentor moment. This is from an anonymous pm. I was investigating a property and found some abandoned fridges. When I asked the resident about the fridges, they said that an endangered species of bird had moved in. What would you do? Have you heard about something like this before?

Guest - Well, that is certainly an interesting question. Can’t say I’ve ever encountered that particular scenario. However, I have encountered times involving bat, which there are some species of bats that are endangered and in those instances, need to contact dnr, have them come out and assess the situation, and then they pretty much take it from there and, and give us instructions as to if we can proceed or if they need to.

Host - Wow. Okay. So when you had to deal with this bat situation, did you know ahead of time that there were gonna be bats there or did you come in not knowing? 

Guest - The latter. We, we show up, our exterminator comes out and identifies the bats and, and wants to double check to make sure that they are or, or not, on the endangered species list, which is when DNR gets involved.

Host - Wow. I’ve never heard of bats invading a property like that. That’s funny though. You have two tenants now. The bats and your actual tenants.

Guest - We don’t pay, we don’t make them pay pent rent for that. 

Host - That’s good. I mean, these guys aren’t that bad, but we are gonna talk about some actually unwanted guests and those are scammers. Okay, so this is a weird one. A resident comes up to front desk and they inform them that they don’t like the fee for the pool equipment, and the front desk is like, what do you mean there isn’t a fee for this? So they go down and investigate and someone has put a lock box with a code on it, a. On the cage where all of the pool equipment is kept, and they’re like, what is this? They scan the code. It takes them to a website that asks for their credit card details for a $5 usage fee. It turns out they do some investigation. It turns out that the old maintenance person had put it on before they left and didn’t think they would get caught because they thought it would be anonymous.

Guest - I’ve definitely dealt with plenty of scam. Particularly now that you know, things are are done less in person. However, this one’s a new one. I mean, it has all the red flags clearly. You know, at this point in time, I’d say the best advice would be just to remove the, the code and the lock that’s on there and then move forward.

Host - Okay? This isn’t in the post, it’s just my guess, but I think they’re not actually just charging $5 that they’re just going to straight up steal the credit card. 

Guest - Oh, a hundred percent yes. I would say that this is, this is not a $5 incident that, that you’re gonna see multiple charges and, and them taking out as much as they can.

Host - So apparently they figured this out because the guy had registered the domain name he was using in his own personal name. Huge mistake. But we all make mistakes. What are some you have made as a pm? Early on in my career. 

Guest - On more than one occasion, people prolonged their stay when they had been behind on their rent and, and, you know, asked for another week or another two weeks to come up with the money, which it ended up not happening. And so in hindsight, I wish I would have been a little more stick to my guns when it came to deadlines to. 

 Host - That’s a hard lesson to learn. And I mean, there’s lessons in this industry you can repeat, but sometimes you just get weird stuff coming up. What’s a weird day you’ve had as a PM.

Guest - I would have to go with the lady who was abducted by an alien.

Host - Whoa. Well, the nice thing about that is that she already has another place to live, I guess.

Guest - No, we had a, we had a lady in, one of our buildings who. Was becoming a little combative with the maintenance staff and her daughter was also on the lease. And, and I had contacted the daughter, and the daughter came in and, you know, very professional looking, very well spoken. And, um, you know, nothing, nothing seemed outta the ordinary. And, and I brought up, you know, your mother is, Has been a little combative with our maintenance staff and, you know, she’s kind of refusing to cooperate, but we really need to get in and get these things taken care of. And, and the daughter says, yes. She, she’s really not been herself since she was abducted by aliens, and I didn’t know where to go with that.

Host - Listening to this, my main takeaway is I am not as good of a daughter as her. There is no way I would believe my mom was abducted by aliens. 

Guest - Hey, that’s, that’s ride Or die, right. 

Host - Well, hopefully the mom is paying attention. She can tell us what alien technology is like for now. , what’s technology you’ve been using that’s helped with your job?

Guest - You know, actually we use an awesome program. Right now. I’m a big fan of it. It’s called Zendesk. It’s a little more customer service facing, but all those things that that can get, you know, Lost in the day-to-day shuffle. It tracks that for you, so it’s gonna record every phone call made, every email sent, all the internal tasks that take place as well. So there’s no more. Hey, did we ever take care of Mr. Smith’s water heater? It’s tracking the whole process from start to finish. Wow. I’ve never heard of that tool before. Is there anything you’ve used that’s made life harder? Sure, sure. Of course. I, there’s a, I don’t wanna name names, but there is a, a maintenance dispatch program out there that is very not user friendly. It’s, you know, the, the history is very tedious. You can’t download it. It’s very repetitive and, and you can’t easily access the information that you’re looking for. I’d sacrifice the bells and whistles that that comes with for just being a little more user friendly.

Host - Yeah. You’re so right. If you can’t use it, there’s no point to it having a million tricks, but what’s something that you think is not being dealt with by tech yet?

Guest - One thing that I. There is room for is when it comes to verifying income for applications. We did notice a spike in fraudulent paychecks come through, and I think that there, there is a space that could be opened up to creating these, these. Verifications, if you will. You know, something that maybe you could scan it in and read the numbers and, you know, verify through the company. Almost like how driver’s license are verified. I think that there’s an opportunity there.

Host - Yeah. People have noticed a big change in this space, that there’s been a lot more scamming going on after Covid. O what have you noticed change in the space after?

Guest - One of the things that really came to the forefront, I think, is doing the, the self shows where prospects will go and tour the home on their own.Now, as somebody who’s familiar with the industry, I think one of the biggest positives of that is the pressure that it takes off of the prospect themselves. Instead of having somebody follow you around and you know, Hey, what do you think? Do you wanna put in your application today? Do you wanna put in your deposit today? which can often come off as pushy if it, they’re not trained correctly. It gives the, the prospect that, that time and freedom to, to tour the home and take it all in and take their time and not feel rushed or pressured, which I feel has made a, a very positive, you know, change for, for the leasing process as a, as a whole.

Host - You know what’s kind of weird? I saw some agents online talking. If a prospective renter uses the washroom while doing a walkthrough, they’re way more likely to sign the lease. Something about them feeling comfortable or at home already, who knows? But self showings must do the same thing, you know?

Host - I might have to, to do a survey and, and just. You know, see if, if that’s a, a theory that holds true. That’s pretty interesting.

Guest - Please tell me your results when you get them. That would be amazing advice, and you’ve given some great advice today. Can you tell the people where they can find you and what you’re up to?

Host - Oh, I’d love to. I am getting ready to start a property management consulting business, so I will be offering coaching for new property investors or seasoned property owners who might be a little tired of their PM and are looking to possibly self-manage. I’ll also be giving large group training event for companies. We wanna do a leasing training for new hires, so that will be launching very, very soon. It’s called JAConsulting. 

Guest - Thanks for answering our questions. We know PMs have to answer a lot of questions about properties if they want help with that, lethub can step in. If you wanna nominate a mentor or tell your story, you can at podcast@lethub.com. Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.

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