Should Property Management Companies Be Held Responsible For Property Upkeep?
One Killeen councilman is asking the city to reassign property upkeep responsibilities from property owners and task it to professional property management companies, an industry that employs more than 740,000 people and generates $69 billion in annual revenue. The only problem is that the city may very well be doing all that it can legally do.
“In many cases, fines go unpaid for extended periods of time while some of the owners are surprised by them due to their residing outside of the city or state and having a property management company that was supposed to be taking care of issues such as these,” said Councilman Steve Harris. “With the situation of unkept yards and properties creating a backlog for Code Enforcement, it has become necessary to take the focus off of the property owners and redirect them to the property management companies.”
Typically, when a property violation is spotted, it’s brought to the Bell County Appraisal District so that the property owner can be determined. Then, the owner is notified of the violation and must deal with it in a certain amount of time.
“If they don’t do it, then we do it for them and bill them for it. We could use any help, if we could find anything that would make our job easier and more efficient,” said city planning director Ray Shanna.
According to a recent study, 86% of landlords think that property management companies are worth investment. This is likely because with property management companies, tenants always have someone to talk to, pays their rent on time, and don’t frequently cause problems because the management company screens them.
However, the city is doing exactly what the law says it can do, according to City Attorney Kathy Davis.
“Clearly the law establishes that the owner is responsible for that property,” explains Davis. “If they have contracted with a property management company and the company is not doing that, then it’s a civil issue between the property owner and the (company). That’s not something the city can use its legislative authority to enforce.”
Harris has also suggested that the city of Killeen develop a database that requires property management companies to submit what addresses would be under their care.
“We’re always looking for ways to be as efficient and effective as possible,” said Glenn Morrison, City Manager. “We just need to make sure that we keep it in the parameters that we have before us.