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Is there anything actionable against a property management firm which fails to protect the value of my property?

Sacramento, CA |

They failed to monitor the property, and never notified me that the property was falling into disrepair. They failed to give notice to tenant about watering the lawn, & now it's dead. They continued to pay the lawn care, with no lawn to mow, & the tenant refused access to the back lawn. No indication when the last visit from lawn care was - bu they continued to pay.There are broken windows, and all the smoke alarms were disabled. The PM claims that I wasn't paying for the service of drive-by inspections, when the only reason I hired them 8 years ago was because they claimed to do such inspections. The tenant passed away, and they waited 20 days to notify us, even though they were notified 4 days after the death. Also, the keys they gave me (when I fired them) did not fit any of the locks.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

The primary source of liability would be in any contract between the owner and the management contract. In the absence of a written agreement specifying the duties and liabilities of all the parties, it comes down to verbal agreements and custom and practice. If the damages are significant, then a civil action may be filed which could be expensive, and it would probably require the employment of an expert as to the duties and standard of care for a property management firm in your area. Damages, dimunition in the value of your property, will require the employment of a different forensic expert. The issue of when during the last 8 years they fell below the standard and how or why you did not sooner discover it will probably be an issue. Consult experienced real estate counsel in the county where any lawsuit is contemplated.
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Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 45 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.

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Posted

I would agree with Attorney Miller, it would all depend on the agreement you have with them and the duties and liabilities of all the parties as expressed and agreed to in that contract. It sounds like there is some level of negligence on their part at the very least. I would find the agreement and seek a consultation with an attorney.

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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Posted

Thank you both for answering. I was afraid of the "depends on the contract" answer. They offer a lot of services on their website, and prior to signing the contract they told us what they would do for us, but none of those services are specified in the contract, in fact, the contract is painfully vague. Other than hiring and firing service providers for the property, most of the contract is about what I have to do for them to engage their services (fees and whatnot). Lessons learned. The lawn care people should have been fired and the tenant served a warning, but other than that, I think there's nothing contractual to pursue. Darn.

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