We’ve all heard that self-storage resident managers are a thing of the past. That may be true with some new facilities being built today, but not all. There are still owners and developers incorporating residences into their plans, and managers who still seek this employment arrangement. In addition, there are scores of properties that still operate in this manner.
When you live onsite, it brings a new dynamic to the employee-employer relationship. Not only is the owner your boss, he’s your landlord. You need to ensure you’re protected if your employment ends, no matter the reason.
Sign a Lease
When applying for a resident-manager position, you need to think about the end of the job in the beginning. This means asking about the parameters and any rules of onsite living during the job interview. There’s nothing wrong with inquiring about this aspect of the job.
Your employer should have a resident manager’s apartment lease as part of its employment package. It should be signed and dated before you move any personal items into the home. The contract should include verbiage like the following:
Rent term: As long as lessee(s) remains in the employ of lessor, the apartment will be leased to the lessee(s) on a week-to-week basis at no charge. Upon termination of employment with lessor, lessee(s) agree to vacate the apartment within seven (7) days or commence paying rent as outlined under holding over/termination.
Seven days is a reasonable period for anyone to pack up, get a moving truck and vacate the home. This might be as few as five days; however, it’s unreasonable to ask a manager to vacate immediately! The lease should also include:
Holding over/termination: Upon termination of lessee(s) employment with lessor, lessee(s) agrees to immediately vacate the premises and leave the premises in the same condition as when this agreement commenced, less normal wear and tear. Any damage beyond normal wear and tear will be reimbursed to lessor by lessee(s). If the lessee(s) fails to vacate, lessor may bring legal action to oust lessee(s). In addition, lessee(s) will be charged rent and utilities at a rate of $50 per day if lessee(s) elects to hold over.
There must be a timeframe to vacate and consequences for not doing so. If your employment ends, you probably don't want to hang around the property anyway! By having a signed lease, you have legal paperwork to cover you, so the employer doesn't just show up with the locksmith and change the locks on the home you’ve been occupying.
Remember, the lease protects you as well as the owner. It ensures everyone is on the same page as to what happens when employment ends. This is the best protection a manager and owner can have.
If the company doesn't have a resident manager's lease, suggest it create one. A letter of employment can also be designed to cover items such as residing in the apartment. It should stipulate terms such as: You’ll live rent-free as long as you’re employed at the facility; it’ll be your residence; and you won’t rent it out without approval from the company.
We’ve all heard horror stories of a fired manager who refused to leave the residence, or who damaged the home. For example, some let their pets do their “business” all over the place. How about the story of the manager who stood in the window and “mooned” people? You don't want to be that person, do you?
When your position ends, clean the home and leave it in better condition than you found it. Being a resident is part of your employment and can therefore affect the reference for your next position. When it comes time to look for a new job, you want your references to be able to say you were a respectful tenant as well as a good employee!
As a resident manager, you likely don’t pay rent or utilities. Hopefully, you also receive a decent wage. It’s important to plan for your future by saving some of your wages from the very beginning. If your company offers a 401K plan, great! If it doesn’t, open a savings account and stash away 15 percent or more of your monthly earnings.
Think about what you’d do if the property was suddenly sold and you were expected to move out. Would you have the money to do so? Let’s face it, nothing lasts forever. Planning means you won’t be stuck and stressed if your employment ends unexpectedly. Rather, you’ll have the funds to move on to the next chapter in your life.
Do the best job you can, take pride in your work and communicate with your company in a professional manner. If things aren’t going well, be prepared to find another opportunity that’s better suited for you.
Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management Services, which has been placing self-storage managers in positions all over the United States since 1991. She also offers staff training, operational consulting, and facility audits and inspections. For more information, call 321.890.2245; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.mini-management.com.