Often as property managers we find ourselves in dispute between two parties with opposing interests; these disputes are frequently complex, heated, and difficult to navigate. It is EASY to fall into the trap of becoming a mediator, and therefore it is important to remind ourselves who are client is and what they pay us for.
A mediator is an independent third party that looks for an appropriate settlement for opposing sides to an issue. Put another way, a mediator, is not party to any side of a negotiation; and property managers (and all real estate professionals) are! Our client is the landlord, buyer, seller, or tenant. We are paid to represent our client, and are therefore a Negotiator; NOT a mediator. Always.
Property managers who take the position of Negotiator, instantly gain a lot of respect from their clients. By being willing to step into difficult situations and put your own interests aside, property managers very quickly differentiate themselves from dull industry standards. It takes courage to manage this way, but clients notice, and it is the right thing to do.
In practical terms, this often means being uncomfortably explicit with tenants when describing what your role is within a given conversation. It is important to remember that there is a good way and a bad way to go about communicating this. Blunt does not always equate to “bad”, but it is important to be kind and respectful. Some explanations that may find yourself giving:
“You should know, that although we aim to reach a solution that is sensible for all parties, we (Taurus) ultimately speak for our client, the landlord, and therefore represent his interests.”
“I’m sorry, but I do need to be clear on this, from a technical stand-point, I represent the landlord and his interests and you should know if you’re wanting a second opinion, you are always free to speak with your realtor or lawyer.”