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 Question: “Hi Kari, I heard a building owner can be sued for not keeping proper timesheets for their on-site building managers? How can I avoid legal exposure?”
First and foremost, before I can even begin to address your question, you must have a valid, signed contract in place with any onsite manager. You can a form onsite manager contract through the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (or you can pay for an attorney to draft one for you). Having a valid contract in place between you and your onsite manager is not an option - it is mandatory for all onsite employees to have a contract even if you call them a “key holder,” “cleaner,” “security” or even worse, any “friend” or just plain old “tenant.” Even if the building is small and does not require an onsite manager or employee, if you have a person at your building that is designated as such who is performing services in exchange for rent concessions, then there must absolutely be a contract that outlines his or her duties and responsibilities and the days and hours they are expected to work.
You have asked a great question, and although I am certainly not an attorney and cannot offer legal advice, I am aware of owners being sued or turned into the labor board for not keeping proper timesheets of people performing work at their building. This tension is not unique to the real estate industry. Have you ever heard those radio commercials where companies want to audit a person’s hours worked for free so they can offer to sue employers!!! It would seem obvious that litigation attorneys are hunting for employees who want to sue employers for potential back pay. My company, SKY Properties in fact, learned this lesson the hard way when a maintenance worker who had misrepresented the time worked on his timesheets. (These “ambulance chasing” attorneys apparently do not seem to be very picky about who their clients are.) Additionally, once an employee claims that an employer owes backpay, the burden of proof that their information is fraudulent or incorrect falls on you, the employer. So, be sure you are keeping accurate records and that you are updating them regularly and timely.
Following many years in the property management business, I have unfortunately witnessed many Please turn to page CS-10
ask SKY
by Kari Negri | SKY Properties, Inc.
  Name any aspect of the complex world of property management and Kari Negri has been at the forefront, forging new ground, fighting for the rights of property owners and tenants alike, adding value, and making a significant difference. With a strong background in management, Kari founded SKY Properties, Inc. in 1997 to offer hands-on, boutique- level property management at a competitive price for multi-tenant property owners. Kari currently serves as a Board Member for the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) as the Co-Chair of State Legislation.

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