PropertyManagementMaven: I'm sorry * that is not in my Property Management Philosophy

I'm sorry * that is not in my Property Management Philosophy

Over my many years in property management, I have diverged from the management philosophy of other property managers on many issues * INCLUDING * tenant generated income.

Many property managers see "tenant lock-out" as a proffit center for their business.

I know other property managers who ONLY provide 1 key to the rented property and charge $150 for the tenant to meet them at their office to get a duplicate key if they get locked out.

I do not organize my fee income that way.

I have dial combination key boxes on all of my properties for emergency use and for access when residents are unavailable.

I've had residents return from a long flight only to realize that their house keys are in their LOST LUGGAGE.

I just received an e-mail this AM from a tenant who went to take out his trash and locked himself out of his house.

Fortunately, both residents had their cel phones and when they contacted me via e-mail, I provided the combination to the key box at their property.


....NOW, when they can't pay their rent on time, I'm right there with a $50 per tenant late fee and a $100 per tenant notice fee for a first class stamp on a pay or quit notice.



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Comment balloon 64 commentsWallace S. Gibson, CPM • May 23 2012 05:39AM


Thanks for the post. I am considering get into the property management business here in orange county ca, any thoughts. Mike
Posted by Mahesh Mike Patel, Call Me And Consider It Done! (First Team Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Mike * JOIN the Property Management Group here on ActiveRain * lots of great information and knowledge there....

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

As a former Property Manager, I can attest to what you are saying.  If I would have had AR in my life earlier in the process...I maybe would still be in it.   I had owners ask me why I was always so nice to tenants and I asked the owners 'Why not?".

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) over 7 years ago

Property management is a tough business.  Several years ago we managed 65 units for various owners.  We gave it up because it was too stressful for our easy going nature.  We have the greatest respect for you guys who make it work!!  We were just too much of a soft touch.

Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) over 7 years ago

Wallace -a $100 per tenant notice fee for a first class stamp on a pay or quit notice, I think I may have to add that fee as I am so tired of having to send them....

Posted by Scott Fogleman, New Home Team (New Home Team 804-573-9592) over 7 years ago

Good morning Wallace,

I agree - be nice to tenants, what goes around comes around...

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Timely post, I locked myself out yesterday, but I'm the landlord..............grrrrrrrrrrr.  Never was big on lock-out charges, it happens.  Totally agree on late rent though.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) over 7 years ago

Treating people with respect and not trying to gouge them will if nothing else let you sleep at night.

Ultimately, you will be repaid with more business.

More importantly, you sleep at night with satisfaction.

Posted by Erv Fleishman, Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates (Realty Associates) over 7 years ago

WALLACE! Do you get up this early every day?

I have no desire to be in property management. I have had to refer friends of mine who want to lease their homes, I just don't want to hassle with it.

But.... what is "$100 per tenant notice fee for a first class stamp on a pay or quit notice"

Posted by Sussie Sutton, UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers. (UTR Texas Realtors) over 7 years ago

If I have to serve a pay or quit notice to start the eviction process, I have a NOTICE FEE for doing it on TOP of the late fee - husband and wife = $300 pour's their incentive to PRIORITIZE payment to me

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Wallace, $150 is pretty harsh should a tenant accidentally lock them self out. I like your idea for have a combo box for emergencies. Do you change the combination after giving it out to the tenant?

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

Morning Wallace,  I see how hard our rental department works and have a lot of respect for anyone doing it.

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 7 years ago

Great post we have a few here in Vancouver WA that nickle and dime the tennants like crazy!!!

Posted by Ken's Home Team LLC. | 360.609.0226 | Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA Real Estate Team, - SOLD IS OUR FAVORITE 4 LETTER WORD - (Ken's Home Team LLC.) over 7 years ago

managing property is really managing people who occupy properties....Of that, there are no shortage of stories

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Great post - that is very considerate of you not to charge the tenant to use the spare key. 

Posted by Gina Tufano, Ask Gina & Company, Northern Virginia Real Estate (Ask Gina & Company with Pearson Smith Realty) over 7 years ago

Wallace -- well said -- a truly "golden rule" concept that I'm sure is greatly appreciated.   

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 over 7 years ago


Agreed.  We want good owners, good tenants and try to treat everyone with respect.  We have frequently assisted folks getting into their homes.  We all get locked out, it happens.  

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) over 7 years ago

It's a thin line we walk, when managing properties for others.

Good post, thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Anthony Daniels, SF Bay Area REO Specialist (Coldwell Banker) over 7 years ago

Good Idea to have a combo lockbox onsite.  I have had renters locked out as well and then I have meet them to get them in.  I never thought of that.  Thank you for your tip.


Posted by June Tassillo, Let me help you with the next phase of your life! (Owner/Broker RE/MAX Elite Realty) over 7 years ago

~ Great Blog! I tend to believe the more you do that provides a great experience to the consumer will fill the gap between those consumers sharing their great expediences verse the alternative! 

Posted by Jon Kolsky, Licensed California Real Estate Broker (Kolsky Realty & Management) over 7 years ago

Wallace, so you have a lock box attached to each property. Is it screwed to the wall or hanging on the door knob or what?

Posted by Mike Frazier, Northwest Tennessee Realtor (Carousel Realty of Dyer County) over 7 years ago

2 property managers I am mentoring have a giant drop box outside their office and they issued keys to their vendors.  They put property keys in the drop box for the vendors to vendors just go to the property * it costs my clients LE$$ in travel time!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Wallace, a key in a lock box for emergency use is a great idea! 

Posted by John Mosier, Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142 (Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert) over 7 years ago

This is a great system for the renters and for people that need to work on the property.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 7 years ago

This is a great suggestion for sure with lockbox for emergency entry.  Those are some crazy scenarios.

Posted by Paula McDonald, Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Beam & Branch Realty) over 7 years ago

I like your method with the key.

Posted by Leslie Prest, Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson, (Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ) over 7 years ago

I agree with Richie #14, Property Management is more like managing people than properties. It certainly is alot of work. Love the idea of $100.00 fee!! I might have to adapt that one!!

Posted by Beth Atalay, Cam Realty of Clermont FL (Cam Realty and Property Management) over 7 years ago

That's a great way to handle it, Wallace.  I like your style.  I personally think it's unreasonable to only give a multi-tenant unit only 1 key.  That's just me.  I provide adequate keys to my tenants.  If they lose one, then we'll talk about fees for the replacement, but I would at least give them the number they need to begin with.

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 7 years ago

Having the lockbox seems like a great idea for many reasons. I certainly would not like to have to drop what I was doing to go meet someone to give them a key.

Posted by Kevin O'Rourke - Keller Williams Miami Beach Realtor, CDPE Miami Short Sale Agent 305-520-9436 (Keller Williams Miami Beach Realty) over 7 years ago

Wow!  I didn't know that there was that kind of charge for a lock out.  Seems a bit excessive.  Good for you Wallace that you take care of your tenants.  People are human for goodness sakes.  

Posted by Brenda Mullen, Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!! (RE/MAX Access) over 7 years ago
As often as I agree with you I still manage to also very often learn good ideas from you as well. I will think about the lock box idea because I do think it's a great idea. I just wonder at the expense. We have nearly 200 units under management so that would be a whole lot of lock boxes!
Posted by Mark Delgado, Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h (houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove) over 7 years ago


Keeping a combination lock on the property for the tenants is a very cleaver idea.  I think I will do that with my apartment.  Thanks.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 7 years ago

I love the 'notice fee' on the top of late charges. Never thought about it.

Posted by Anna Dovger, Home Staging -The Woodlands, TX (Add Value Home Staging LLC, 281-704-6607) over 7 years ago

Anna - then you'll L♥VE my 20% service charge if I have to take cleaning and repair charges from their security deposit....I provide names of house cleaner, carpet cleaner and yard service - they can pay to have the work done BEFORE they vacate or I'll have it done and charge 20% service is IN my lease!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Good balance in your PM systems -Fairness(keys) and yet strict Landlord protection. Was just in a meeting with 6-7 Property Mngrs. from YORK, PA . All now are collecting their rents by Direct Withdraw from the tennants checking accounts.

Posted by Michael J. Perry, Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist (KW Elite ) over 7 years ago

Wallace, what a great idea, I think I am going to use this one also, many thanks.

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 7 years ago

Wallace, great idea to make it easier for both of you and provide great customer experience at the same time.

Posted by Bill Fields (Bill Fields Learning Systems) over 7 years ago

I do not like the lockboxes idea. I can see where it makes things easier but I personally would not like one on my own house. I would be afraid of someone getting in and the liability to the tenants. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. If someone needs to get into the home to do repairs my tenants get them access. Personal responsibility for their own items and I don't have to hear that they have belongings missing. 

I do love the fee for a late notice and do that myself. Time is money and it does take time to get notices together. 


Posted by Sandra Watkins (RE/MAX Town & Country) over 7 years ago

I assist another agent who is a property manager. I know that I don't want to be the property manager. At least I can divorce myself from things when I am not at work. He is on call ALL the time..... I am too for sales and my own rental listings. I just don't manage. Count me in too for having the utmost respect for those in our industry with the stamina.

Posted by Steve Facella (ReMax Prestige) over 7 years ago

Excellent tips that can be adapted and used elsewhere. Thanks for your post. 

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 7 years ago

LOVE the lockbox idea for emergency, etc. use!


Posted by Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker, email: / cell: 334-494-7846 (iXL Real Estate-Wiregrasss\) over 7 years ago

Very clever with the keybox on the property. Way to step outside the box! Kudos!


Posted by Gretchen Bradley (Realty Source Inc.) over 7 years ago

Love your philosophy. This is one of my pet peeves as well. Now if I have a tennant that is a hapitual key looser I will draw the line and impose a key charge.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 7 years ago

Thanks for the post.  Your reply to the first commentator was worth looking into regarding the prop management on AR.  Thanks.

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 7 years ago

There is confusion as to whether they are LOCKboxes or KEYboxes * I use KEYboxes that are physically attached to a 4x4 or wood trim at the property - hidden under a deck or around the corner where it is not visible......residents rarely know they are there unless I tell them!


Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Wallace, you've got it covered! Property management is a whole different world from where I live. Thanks for your post today, 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 7 years ago

This is a great idea, Wallace.  I manage a small number of properties currently, so I am able to take care of such emergencies personally (or send my husband  - who happens to be a State Licenced General & Roofing Contractor; Mold Remediator and IICRC Certified Water Damage Restoration/Odor Control/Applied Structural Dryer, as well as a CPM -- for more urgent requests) but I can see where your solution would make life easier for both manager and tenant! :)  

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Barbara Murphy, GRI, e-PRO, GREEN, FMS, MRP (Tartan Properties, Pensacola~Pace~Milton~Gulf Breeze~FL) over 7 years ago

Dear Wallace,

What a genius idea! Some of your other comments show that you have learned a lot from experience. Great suggestions.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 7 years ago

Hi Wallace, I agree that is not very professional.  And I doubt it makes for happy tenants.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 7 years ago

Great idea about the combo box. I do think I'd change the combination after each use though. 

Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Be nice to tenants could sometimes go far.........








Posted by George P. Cruz Sr., PSL FL CDPE, TRC, CIPS (DR Horton) over 7 years ago

Wallace I think you have some real integrity.  $150.00 for a missing key is pretty tough.  Have you thought about setting the locks up so you have to lock them with the key on leaving if you want to lock it, so you are forced to take your key.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Interesting ideas. I am not sure our rental market is strong enough to allow these kinds of charges. We are very lucky to find a good, credit worthy tenant. We  are estatic when we find one who actually has a checking account.

Posted by Thomas McCombs (Century 21 HomeStar) over 7 years ago

Currently managing 98 homes and growing like a weed.  Hadn't had any trouble with this until last week when two tenants locked themselves out.  Both had to do it on a weekend evening.  Inconvenient for everyone involved.

Love the idea.  Think we'll utliize it.

Posted by Chris Lengquist, Kansas City Real Estate Investing (Ad Astra Realty) over 7 years ago

Chris - I can install and remove them without chipping my French manicure....having Sanzo CODE them * all to the same 3 letter code * is the trick - install on a 4x4 * under deck or on the side of a garage shoulder high. 

I have to thank Steve Urie * MPM * who I learned this from at a NARPM class 15+ years ago! 

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Managers ae making lots of money by passing these charges on to the tenants unbeknowst to the landlords while losing some tenants in the process.

Posted by Charles Stallions, 800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services ) about 7 years ago

I agree with you Wallace, It the tenants home! I think we should try and help them as much as Possable-

WE all have been lock-Out- it not a great feeling- and then add 150.00 on top-That a bad review-


Ricky D Sadler

Seattle,WA 98136


Posted by Ricky D. Sadler, Trusted Senior Property Advisor & Marketing Expert (Real Estate Marketing Experts &Trusted Senior Advisors on Property Management services, Rentals Leasing, Landlord Tenant ) about 7 years ago
Once before you had provided info on where you purchase these key boxes. Could you do so again? With a large portfolio or rental properties the purchase of these boxes could get expensive Thank you.
Posted by Mark Delgado, Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h (houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove) over 6 years ago

You are full of interesting ideas Wallace! Best wishes on your property management business.


Posted by David Harper, Homes For Rent (Florida Management and Consulting Group Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Question? Have you thought about charging a small monthly fee like $2-5 for having a combo box on the home for such emergencies to the tenant? I had a person ask me this question.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 3 years ago

Thats a great idea, but we don't charge the fee as profit-we charge the fee to pay my on call person to go get a key from the office and unlock the door.

Any concern the tenants will use the lockbox as a way for their kids to get in the house?

Posted by Dennis Swartz, MBA, GRI...experience counts! (Full Circle Property Management) about 3 years ago

No.....boxes are placed too high on the property for children to use

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) about 3 years ago

I manage 230 units and get a lockout about six times a year. It's not worth charging to take them a key and it's not worth adding a key box to the property. I take one to them with a smile on my face.

Posted by Nathan Gesner, Broker / Property Manager (American West Realty and Management) almost 3 years ago

My service people L♥VE having key boxes on my properties - I buy in bulk from Sanzo and they do the dial code for $1 more...I have about 60 now and I move them from properties when they are terminated....

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) almost 3 years ago

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