Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Q: At your recommendation, we bought a condo in Seattle some years ago so our son could live there while in college.

He graduated and took a job out of state. We've decided to keep the condo and rent it out. We contracted with a property manager to handle it and that is the problem. The guy has done a really lousy job. We decided to go to another, better manager but now the first manager is dragging his feet getting us our money. He has deposits that belong to us and we've been waiting weeks and still don't have the money. What do we do? Our new manager seems reluctant to go after this other guy.

A: Property management is one of the most difficult parts of the real estate industry, and it's heavily regulated. You need to go to these regulatory agencies about your problem. There are strict time lines on how long funds can be held after they have been requested.

First, be sure this manager is licensed. Only those holding a valid Washington State real estate license, working under the supervision of a real estate brokerage firm, can legally do property management. The only exception is for an on site manager in an apartment complex.

If you believe this person has not followed the law, or has been self serving or is illegally holding or using your money, you should report his actions to the following:
Enforcement Division of the Washington State Department of Licensing (360-664-6484); Washington State Attorney General (800-551-4636); and an ethics complaint to the Seattle King County Board of Realtors (800-540-3277).

No one in the real estate industry really wants to "turn in" another agent. Most of us work every day to act in full accordance with all the rules and regulations of our business and the ethical standards of the Association of Realtors. However, one bad apple can sour things for everybody, so don't hesitate to file a complaint if this property manager has mishandled your funds or many be guilty of other questionable practices.