APVA Member Judith Healy, has niched her business to become a property VA, in this blog she shares a little more about her typical day and the skills needed as a property VA.
I fell into property management and serviced accommodation administration by accident. I had been self- employed for a while in telemarketing. Something that I can admit was never my favourite thing but needs must!
It took me over a year to get my first chance to work as a virtual assistant and I started with clients on low-paying platforms. At the time I had a lot of common sense, but very little formal experience as an administrator. I am self-taught after a career in nursing, but those skills have stood me in good stead for the virtual assistant I am today. I have worked in a number of different niches and accidentally fell into property after my very first virtual assistant client was a property one. It took me a few years to find my niche and was definitely worth trying different sectors to find what I am good at and enjoy.
My typical day
It’s 7.30 am and I switch my own phone on, to see a flurry of messages from 11pm the night before, regarding a fire alarm activation. A number of tenants are reporting a fire alarm that has been going off all night. Along with one managing to lock himself out at the same time.
They safely evacuated the house and managed to break the key in the alarm when they tried to reset it. On this occasion, this wasn’t a false alarm. The property at the back was on fire! That is the end of my planned work for the next couple of hours!
Priority 1 is to stop the fire alarm and ensure that the system is safe and working as it should correctly, as well as get the tenant back into their room. I quickly phone the tenant to organise getting them back into their room and then the fire alarm engineer to sort out turning off and resetting the alarm, all before 8.30am!
While I wait for an update, I grab some breakfast and go back to my to do list and do some other work. I spend some time working on compliance for another client and checking fire risk assessments with the drama of the night before still in my head while I review the finding from the fire risk assessment. Within an hour the tenant is back in his room and the fire alarm has been reset and is working correctly.
From fire alarms to floods and other emergencies, such as the electricity has tripped then my to do list becomes obsolete until the emergency is resolved.
As a property virtual assistant, I always start my day with a to do list but unlike other areas of the virtual assistant world it isn’t always possible to stick to a schedule.
Flexibility & adaptability are key to working in property & serviced accommodation administration. For some clients, I offer an office hours Monday to Friday service. While for other clients I stick to these hours but will jump on when needed and subject to my agreed availability to resolve emergencies.
My aim in life is to make the Landlord & Letting Agents lives that I work with easier. I add value by freeing them up to work on the things they want to do as well as acting as a buffer, especially for Landlords between them & their tenants.
The type of tasks that I undertake include:
- Placing property adverts
- Screening prospective tenants
- Arranging viewings & following up after viewings
- Referencing tenants & their guarantors
- Preparing and sending out tenancy packs
- Managing maintenance issues and emergencies
- Dealing with property compliance.
- Managing tenants.
- Supporting clients with their serviced accommodation
My top tips if you want to work as a property virtual assistant as well as administration skills are:
- Ability to prioritise and jump from planned to emergency work.
- A thick skin (some people are incredibly rude, especially when they aren’t suitable for a property or think you aren’t trying too resolve their minor maintenance issue urgently).
- A sense of humour (the number of times I hear interesting stories, which make me laugh)! From the tenants who smuggle pets in and avoid paying the pet fee, and then the neighbours tell you the dogs are left to bark all day, to being asked to referee because someone can’t clean the toilet, kitchen or is too noisy! A strong stomach is required with some of the pictures I get sent! I have been known to point out they are supposed to be adults and need to sort out things themselves.
- Empathy (a lot of people apply for each property and unfortunately a lot of people end up disappointed).
- Knowledge of property legislation. I recently heard of a landlord who thought it would be okay to do the gas safety once the new tenants had moved in – just in case you are wondering it’s not! It needs to be sent along with the tenancy agreement prior to the tenant moving in. Other documents also need to be supplied including the How to rent Guide, the EICR (Electrical Installation Report & the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). All of which have different time frames relating to their validity.
- The ability to talk to anyone and everyone and diffuse difficult situations, when people are getting irate.
- A passion for what you do, some days can be frustrating and you can feel like you are not achieving anything, while other days you hardly have time to process what is happening before something else happens.
Being a property virtual assistant is rewarding and I love it when a client says thank you. For me having a happy client and a satisfied tenant is the reason that I choose to work in property.
Judith is the owner of JH Admin, a Virtual Assistant specialising in Property Management.
Judith works with both individual landlords and lettings agents, providing back office support. With extensive experience working in single lets, multi-lets and HMOs through the whole tenant journey, dealing with compliance and also day to day management of her clients portfolios.