Property Manager Problems in Mexico

Please correct me if I am wrong. We have hired a Property Management/Rental company for our Mexican home for times when we are not there. In my mind the company works for us, not the other way around. Many terms were covered in the contract both parties signed with our lawyer and other important points were discussed verbally and in emails and agreed upon. In the end, they simply do what they want which we feel jeopardizes both rhe safety and integrity of our property. For example they strongly suggested we up our decor by purchasing cushions for our many lounge chairs, an outdoor sofa set and coffee table, luxurious beach towels and numerous hammocks. We were quite clear that we would agree but the airbnb guests would need to bring inside all cushions and hammocks etc each night. We wanted this written into the airbnb contract and that guests would be responsible if there are thefts. Hotels and restaurants do this as do we when we are there for the simple reason that this is a beach property. It may be surrounded by a fence but all passer-bys can look in. Now that we are back in Canada, a hammock has already been stolen. Now the thieves know what is there they will be back. The property managers refuse to put it in the contract saying their guests are there for a few days of holiday and should not be responsible for anything but their own private property (cell phones). Ironically they are now trying to blame us saying our security is not enough. They knew exactly what the property was like when they signed the contract with us. This is but one example of what they agreed to initially versus what they are doing.
To those of you who might quickly say to simply hire another company, I say it is just not that easy. Many Pms in the area are ex-pats who prefer to deal only with ex- pats . Ex-pats come to our area when we live there. In the past we have had someone living in the house when we were not there who was to care for the property. We ended up having to have neighbours keep an eye out as to when this person was actually there and when she was bringing her entire extended family for sleepovers. We were also dealing with theft from within. It is impossible to micro manage from another country.

I would very much appreciate some constructive suggestions. thx

As a Canadian who has lived full-time in Mexico for 18 years, I’m afraid I can’t offer you much encouraging advice.

I host a private room in my home, but I also have an upholstery business, and as such, I have todeal with a lot of non-resident vacation homeowners’ property managers. Most of them are incredibly unprofessional- they don’t return calls, reset door codes when they know I am coming to install something without bothering to give me the new code, are unavailable or “forget” when we have set up a meeting, fail to pick up completed projects and pay me in a timely fashion, and I see a lot of maintenance issues in the houses I go into that the managers are not attending to.

I can always tell when the homeowners are due to come down, because the PMs are rushing around trying to spruce up all the things they have been ignoring for months, yet being paid to look after, as if it’s looked that good since the owners were last down.

And it absolutely doesn’t work to have live-in managers- they will always take advantage, as you found out.

The only thing I can suggest is that you get in touch with other hosts in your area to find out if they have any PM recommendations. An individual, someone who only manages a couple of places, and comes recommended, is probably a better choice than a management company.

May I ask where in Mexico you are located? And is the rental listing under your Airbnb account, or the PM’s? If the latter, that was a big error on your part and why they think they can dictate things.

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Yes, I believe it is almost impossible. Some hosts can run their business remotely but the hosts I know who do with success are those who have a dedicated co-host - someone who lives within ten minutes of the property.

I have heard plenty of horror stories about management companies but few (if any) real success stories.

Absolutely correct. You are the client and they are supposed to be providing you with a professional service. Did they provide excellent (genuine) recommendations and testimonials before you chose to use them?

Although it seems that they have a monopoly in your area and are getting above themselves. They cannot dictate to you about cushions or any other matter.

Firstly, they are not ‘their’ guests, they are yours. So, if they are only responsible for only their own property, they can break all the windows? Burn the bedding? Destroy your kitchen?

Of course they can’t. In the guests’ contract with Airbnb they agree to look after the property and to leave it as they found it. To say that the guests are only responsible for their own property is balderdash and I’m surprised they had the gall to suggest it.

That comment alone shows their incompetence.

However this rant doesn’t solve your problem. My suggestion is that you work long and hard to find a co-host locally who can be in sole charge. If that person is already co-hosting for another property so much the better as he/she will have plenty of experience with STR and the vagaries of Airbnb.

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I’m sorry about your troubles. My wife and I looked into buying a 2nd home in Mexico near Puerto Peñasco in the early 2000s because it’s only a 3.5-hour drive and much cheaper than the next closest beaches (San Diego). We went there with friends that owned (technically, I think it’s a lease) a condo and we talked to some others that owned property there, including one couple with a detached home. Theft and vandalism were problems on the detached house, and mismanagement was a problem with the managed condos.

I feel for you. My brother and I had to sell our parent’s house which we inherited. We wanted to keep it so we would have a place to stay when we visited the island but a relative was taking advantage of the situation. To solve the issue, we decided to sell the house. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to host a property when you live so far. Property managers and locals will take advantage of the situation. If I were you, I would sell it and move on. It’s not worth all the headches.

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Long distance management is tough and sorry you had a dud as a live-in.

I have not had to manage a property in another country, but I agree with seeking referrals from people you know or relying on trusted individuals you have other business or personal relationships with, and paying them well, rather than a company. That’s what I did for my U.S. Airbnb bookings when I unexpectedly had to be in another state for an extended period.

Other than that, the main advice I can think of is that if your business model doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and needs to be changed.

Could you increase your rate to covers the additional costs of long-distance management, cushion inventory shrinkage and all, and stay competitive? Should you set a longer minimum stay? Provide the local constabulary with a couple free weeks so they’ll keep an eye on things? Sell out and get a condo in a secure building with full time staff?

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In Mexico? :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Mexican cops are totally corrupt. They’ll scope the place out and burgle it. You avoid them at all cost.

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A Mexican friend of mine was riding her bike, when a local municipal police car, 2 cops in uniform, on duty, starts driving real slowly next to her. Cop says out the window as they continue to drive at the speed she is biking, “Know what I want to be?”
She ignores him and keeps pedalling. He says it 2 more times. Finally she turns to him and says in an irritated voice “No, what do you want to be?”

“I want to be your bicycle seat”. Both the cops laugh uproariously and drive on.

They’re pigs, for real.

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@FiZ = at would it cost you to have better security? Maybe the PM knows what is expected and the suggestion is valid.
A hammock probably costs $35.
If I were a guest, I would expect cushions and hammocks, outdoor furniture and decent towels, and I would want the property to be priced accordingly.
As a guest, I would not want to haul all of that in each night …that is not reasonable vacation guest actions. Nor would I want to be held responsible for stolen furniture.
Labor is cheap in Mexico. Many homes have caretakers and cooks and daily cleaning. What are the other owners doing to solve this? I would think you could pay someone to bring it all in at night and put in out again at 8am.
If this PM has a lock on the area, then there must be solutions you are not considering.

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Not sure why you are addressing me. I simply gave my own experience, as someone who has lived in a tourist town with tons of vacation rentals, for 18 years.

I agree that asking guests to haul all the cushions in and out every night is over and above a reasonable ask.

How do most people handle security here? Walls, cameras, heavy metal gates with big padlocks, dogs, etc. I don’t- I live in the quiet countryside, we have almost no issues with theft.

But if the place fronts right on the beach with no walls, anyone can walk up and steal stuff. And no, no one is going to want to take the job of showing up at 8am to put cushions out, and then again at night to take them in, and it would be an invasion of the guests’ privacy. What if the guests want to sit outside until 2 am? I sure wouldn’t want anyone showing up to do that if I were a guest.

excuse me I am sorry I was meaning to respond to OP

“It is impossible to micro manage from another country.”

Absolutely, absentee-hosting doesn’t even tend to work even when both parties live in the same country, especially one 3,000 miles long (i.e. the U.S.)

@FiZ You say you had a live-in caretaker who took advantage, and I know this happens a lot in Mexico, but I also know people who have found great people to do that for them. It’s a matter of really getting to know people in the community and finding out who you could trust to take on a position like that.

Before I had my own place here, I rented in an area where many of my friends who were resident here either took on a position like that for the homeowners, or got really cheap rent in exchange for keeping the place in good shape, with the understanding that we had to find another place to stay when the homeowners came down. These were situations where the homeowners only came once or twice a year, for maybe 3 weeks to a month at a stretch. That sort of caretaking situation wouldn’t work if you come down for say, 6 months. It’s not that hard to go stay with a friend, or find someone who wants to go out of town for a few weeks and needs a house and pet sitter, but it wouldn’t have been practical for me to have had to find another place to stay for 6 months every year.

@FiZ -
As an owner of a home on a Caribbean island, we have a similar situation. We were fortunate that the prior owner had a housekeeper and maintenance person that were trustworthy, and we kept them on when we bought. Unfortunately, they do things differently than we would given the difference in culture between St Lucia and the United States. We’ve had to learn to let go of the micromanagement. That’s hard for us, as we can be perfectionists.

And yes, your PM works for you, but hopefully it’s a partnership. They are right about not expecting guests to bring in your belongings at night.

We’ve had to change how we think and act as we’ve gained experience renting our property. That’s why this business is not as easy as Vrbo and AirBnB make it sound. You don’t just walk out of your house and let others in and rake in the money!

Maybe many of your disagreements with the PM are due to this difference in thinking. So before you dump them, perhaps you will post some other areas of disagreement and let us comment on them.

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Sell it and rent places for vacation. You will NEVER be happy with remote management, especially in Mexico.

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The local police station house is two doors down. They would not even notice if a thief stole the clothes off their own back since their eyes are permanently glued to their private phones or they are too busy flirting with each other.

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I am not familiar with having a property in Mexico, I am however familiar with remote management of a property. I managed a 5 bedroom log cabin from 1300 miles away, you too could manage your property, if you were able to hire a care taker, or someone to over see cleaners, maintenance etc. that can be difficult to find, I fortunately had strong ties to the area, neighbors kept a close eye on things. My cleaning person became very loyal, knew the property best, reported issues, brought things in that guests left out and checked on the property within 24 hours of checkout, and usually had it cleaned within 24 hours. You could manage your reservations, communicating with guests, and delivery of house rules, including care of the home while they visit.

But that is exactly the problem in Mexico- it is almost impossible to find someone you can trust not to have a “when the cat’s away, the mice will play” attitude. A lot of it has to do with basic cultural differences, not just untrustworthiness or ill intent.

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Same in the Caribbean. We trust our staff on the “big” stuff - to not steal from the back account or take things from the villa home and not return them (although they do sometimes borrow the pressure washer). We know they don’t maintain the house as well when we aren’t there as they do when we are there, but that’s just the culture of not worrying about the details!

And in Mexico, they wouldn’t see anything wrong with inviting 10 family members to stay if the place wasn’t booked. A big empty house with no one in it? It is really hard for them to fathom why it shouldn’t be used, as long as they clean up after.

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