Nichole Oswald has 14-years of experience and the stories to prove it. She has faced hoarders, scammers, and carry-over tenants with big asks, and has remained empathetic. She talks about the property management tools she has used and what she would avoid. Nichole is experienced in property management and leasing coordination, but it's her joy that makes her a mentor.
Host - Welcome back to The Property Management Mentor, powered by Lead Hub. I'm your host, cayenne. We get into PM's, dms to learn the tools, tricks, and stories come with the years of experience. Today we're asking Nicole Oswald PM questions. Nicole is a regional property manager with RPM Living and has been in the industry for 14 years, so I've done kind of everything.
Guest - I started as a leasing consultant and worked my way up.
Host - Let's get into it. Okay, we're gonna drop straight into our mentor moment. We have a question here from an anonymous pm. They say, I have taken over a property with a tenant who's been there four years. They asked for a new car carpet and the previous owner agreed we are in charge of the installation.The furniture has to be moved to install the carpet. And there is either a small cost from the installation company to move the furniture or the tenant has to move it themselves. They refused both options. What would you do?
Guest - So this is a good question. It's always interesting when you know residents ask for Things and our promise things from prior management or pm We have, we've done a lot of takeovers in the last year, so definitely familiar with residents saying, oh, you know, prior management had said they would do this for us if it was in writing, and you know, we confirmed that they had been promised this. I come from a strong customer service focus in the, you know, it's something that was promised and it's not their fault that there's a new owner or management manager at the property. So I usually work with them. If it's a small cost usually I reach out to our client, make sure they're okay with it, and kind of work it that way. And it's something that you could also potentially ask them to agree to sign either a longer lease term or let them know that. , you know, they move out at the end of their lease term, that fee would be passed on to them at move out if it's, if that's something that the, the client was looking to do. But I think from a customer service standpoint, it's important to try and do everything possible to keep them happy.
Host - Yeah. Agree. You always wanna keep them happy. Customer service is a way to go on this, but moving on to a group of people, we don't wanna keep happy. We're gonna talk about scams that are happening in property management right now. A Kentucky man on Craigslist was surfing to find a place already a bad sign. Craigslist is scammy, finds a place, does a self tour and plans to sign, but the landlord starts pressuring him for a deposit of 2,500. This spooks, the tenant. The police investigate and reveal that the landlord is a scammer who got the lock backs, codes. What would you do about this? Have you heard anything about this before? Has this happened to you?
Guest - It is not something that I have thankfully heard of, but. . It definitely sounds something like something that would happen these days. I feel like scammers are getting more and more brave in their attempts to get money or information. So nothing that I've personally dealt with, although I, I can see how easy that would be. I have a portfolio that we operate on, a centralized model, so there are times where prospective residents would tour on their own, and I could see how it. You know, realistic to imagine that somebody could somehow pretend to be the landlord. I would say that, you know, a typical, a property manager that's legit is not gonna ask for that kind of thing without first screening the resident. So that would definitely be a red flag that I would caution. Perspective residents are looking to move. You know, if they don't ask for an application first, definitely a red flag, but also, you know, you wanna make sure that they're actually who they say they are when you're giving them all your information. I had a scam at my previous company. Definitely, well thought out. We did a lot of site unseen rentals because again, it was a large student demographic, so we had people moving from different states, different countries. A lot of times we would never. Or meet them until they moved in, or even we wouldn't meet them until after move in. So we had a renter that applied. They were approved, we got all their documentation, their proof of income, their id, everything looked great. We approved them. They signed their lease. They paid with a a money or No? They paid with a cashier's check that they mailed to us. Cause they weren't gonna be there to pick up keys. We moved in, we, you know, posted the, the cashier's check, and then seven days later it was refunded as a fraudulent cashier's check, which I had never encountered before. So I don't know how exactly they managed to .
Host - How does that even happen? They must have worked at the bank. That's crazy.
Guest - Seriously, I, I don't even know. But luckily we were able to just, we consulted our attorney and he said, you know, that's technically a felony. You can change the locks. And if, if they call the police, then you can let them know that. This person committed this, this crime. They willingly moved out when we made that threat, but that was a first for that.
Host - I've never, never encountered a fake cashier's truck before. Yeah, that's wild. Maybe their talents of forgery are useful somewhere else. Maybe they're being underutilized.
Guest - Yeah. Seriously. Yes.
Host - Get into where my talents are useful and do some tech talk. We know PMs are using a lot of things in the space. Yardi, Turner, everything. What programs have made being a property manager easier? Yeah. So I u well I don't personally use Knock, Although I still go into there every now and again, so Knock is a CRM platform that, we use at RPM Living, but also I used it at my prior company and I love how easy it is to kind of see what the prospects are saying, how quickly we're responding to them. And it's just been really helpful from a regional level to see what everyone's doing.
Guest - Yeah, it's amazing when you can find a tool like that that just does something you need done, but there are also tools that don't. Are there any programs you've worked with in the past that have actually made your job harder?
Host - I mean, there's definitely been some, I don't, I don't wanna out any particular companies been some that has been problematic. I think, you know, in general, a lot of our property management softwares in this space are. They've been around for a while and they were created at a time when technology was vastly different than it is today. So I think any of the property management software is out there. You're going to have, you're gonna have some hiccups. It's just, it's technology. There's always gonna be, it's never gonna work seamlessly, unfortunately. Yeah. Tech has always very much been the field of work in process, like they have bug fixes constantly.
Guest - Yes, yes, yes, Now that we're talking about fixes, I wanna talk about what in your industry you think tech could still improve something that's been in the space for a little bit.
Host - It's, it's definitely not new. I don't know that I've ever seen it done great. Is just inventory management. Think that that's definitely an opportunity for, for tech to come in and really improve, you know, what are we ordering? How often do we need it? How often are we going through it? I. I think that there's definitely a lot of opportunity on the maintenance side. I just don't know that it's gonna be at the forefront. I think we're gonna see more, more opportunity and growth on the, the people side of things, because payroll is such a big expense for, for owners and managers.
Guest - Yeah, this is a huge space for growth right now, and it's something that we're just seeing a lot of innovation in. I agree that inventory just needs to catch up or keep up or exist in a better form than it is right now. But speaking of growth in one of your past roles, what's an odd experience you had on the job?
Host - Oh, I'm gonna go way back, way, way back. It was one of my, largest properties that I managed when I was still on site and we had a complaint for resident that there was a smell in their building. So, you know, we go. The first floor definitely had a smell, but that's where the garage, the, the garage, the garbage room was on the first floor. So initially we were like, okay, maybe it's the garbage room. We go up, check all the floors. First floor was the only one that smelled. We go into the garbage room. It definitely smells like a garbage room, but it definitely had a different smell than what you could smell in the hallway. Like, okay, this is gonna, you know, bother me until I figure out what the issue is. So we decided to notice the entire first. Said, we're gonna, you know, check all the apartments, you need to do an inspection. So we scheduled it for a couple days later, and on the day we were supposed to do the inspection. We go, we do the inspection. We did it for all, I think there's 20, apartments per floor. So we did 19 of the apartments. One apartment had a sticker saying, alarm. Oh, alarm Wild. So we go back to the office, call the resident, Hey, just wanna let you know we're coming in, call back immediately. He was like, you can't go into my apartment. You're not gonna like what you find. I was like, what am I gonna find?
Guest - Whoa, foreshadowing.
Host - So I was, yeah, I was like, okay. Well, we are going to have to go into your apartment, so just as an fyi, your alarm is going to go off. We go in and luckily there's no, you know, nothing. Dead bodies is what I was thinking. I was gonna find . There's no dead bodies. There, it was a, a hoarder but a trash hoarder. So literally floored ceiling, bags of trash. There was a dog barking somewhere. We see it. and the bathroom was basically his like personal smoking space. So like it was covered in just like foot from smoking. Needless to say, we. had to get rid of him and we ended up having to completely gut the apartment because it was, it smelled so terrible.
Guest - Wow. That's crazy. You thought it was a garbage room and it ended up being a garbage room after all.
Host - Yeah. Yep, that's true. So you messed up to deal with stuff like this a lot. A lot of difficult residents. And how do you deal with some of your worst days on the job? How do you go home and turn it? I mean, I think the biggest thing is disassociating the negative from like my performance. So, you know, you'll have residents that you know are yelling about whatever and, and removing that and trying to make them understand, hey, you know, I'm trying to resolve this issue. Like how can we work together to resolve your issues? A massive issue we were all facing in the past couple years has been covid.
Guest - How has Covid and the post Covid world changed your.
Host - I think, you know, the, the push to centralization was a big covid initiative. I was at the time working for Pioneer Acquisitions and we were already operating on a centralized model, so it wasn't something that I implemented in Covid, but it was something that I was working with prior to Covid and I am definitely a huge like, promoter of centralized services from like a leasing perspective, even a property management perspective. Remote work and centralization were two big things that I saw a huge push during Covid. Yeah, a centralized model is just absolutely going to become ubiquitous and I don't know how we're gonna get ready for that, but I hope we are. Speaking of, are you ready for the. Final question of the episode, which is what are your mentors? Would you wanna hear this podcast?
Guest - One of my early mentors was Assistant gm back when I was in the hospitality world. Her name's Cindy Rey Reynolds. She is, she's retired since then, but she was just always such an inspiration, just like her work ethic, the way that she managed people with, with empathy and understanding, and the way that she promoted her team to. you know, push themselves to do better. So she's definitely one that I like, always look back fondly on my time working for her. And then currently, one of my clients, Kelly Debi, is someone that I greatly admire and she's amazing. She's been in the industry for a very long time. So whenever I have a question, I'm, I'll ping her and see what she, what advice she has for.
Host - It's amazing to have someone like that in your corner that you can just message and be like, I don't know how to do my job. And they'll understand and help you out. Yes, definitely. Definitely. It's amazing having you on the podcast today. Thanks for answering our questions, Nicole Oswald, thank you so much.
Guest - Have a great day.
Host - Thanks for answering our questions. We know that property managers have to answer a lot of questions about property. If they need help doing that, let Hub can step in. This has been the Property Management Mentor, and if you wanna nominate a mentor or share a story, you can at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.