10 Ways to Help Out Your Property Management Company

by | BiggerPockets.com

I’ve read a lot here on BiggerPockets about the pros and cons of using a property management company, but have you ever considered how property management companies view property owners?

Property management companies fully expect to maintain the properties they manage and manage the tenants who live in them. What you may not realize is how much managing of property owners is often involved.

Following is a list of some things homeowners can do to make managing their properties much easier for their property manager.

Related: Property Management from a Property Manager’s Perspective

(This list is in no particular order of importance.)

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10 Ways to Help Out Your Property Management Company

  1. 1.) Hand over the property to your management company in move in condition. Your property should be empty, clean, and ready to market for your first tenant. This shows both the property management company and your tenant how you expect your property to be maintained going forward. If the yard and the house are a mess, both the management company and the tenant know you really don’t care and, chances are, they won’t care as much, either.
  2. 2.) If it’s in the house, make sure it works. Your property doesn’t need to be prepared to the level it would if you were selling it on the retail market, but everything in the house needs to be in good working order. Light fixtures need to be properly installed and with working light bulbs. Sink faucets shouldn’t leak (or the tenant will call the first week to have them repaired). Dishwasher, disposal, any appliances that are provided in the unit all need to work or to be removed. Nothing is more frustrating for the tenant, the management company, or for the homeowner than to get a list from the tenant upon move-in of things that need to be fixed.
  3. 3.) Remove all personal items from the property. We are often presented with properties that have items left, especially in the garage, yard, basements and attics. This is not acceptable. When someone new moves into a property, they do not want to deal with items that are not theirs. And, your property management company does not want to be in the middle of conflict if you come back later to pick up the item you left only to discover it’s no longer there. All personal items should be removed before turning the property over to a management company.
  4. 4.) Your property needs to be clean. Sparkling clean is best. Tenants are fine with age on a property and fixtures, but they do want it to be clean when they move in, just as you would if you were moving into a new property. The carpets don’t need to be new, but no holes, and they should be professionally cleaned.
  5. 5.) Walls. Walls don’t need to be freshly painted, but the worse they look, the harder it will be to rent the house out. No holes, certainly. There are a lot of properties on the market and prospective tenants will take dirty walls and odd paint colors into consideration when choosing a home.
  6. 6.) Leave all utilities on. Many prospects will view your property in the evening so they’ll need lights. And, it’s important that the toilets flush and the sinks work. In the winter, you need a bit of heat on so that prospects feel comfortable. We keep thermostats about 60-65 degrees so it feels warmer inside than outside. In the summer, leave the air on so the house is not stuffy. We keep air conditioners set about 75-78 degrees so it feels cooler than the outside.
  7. 7.) Fill out entirely and return all forms and documents requested by your property management company. We have a rule in our office that we will not market any property until the owner has given us every piece of information we request. In the same manner, we will not rent out a property to a tenant until they have completed everything we request.
  8. 8.) Give the management company as much information as possible about your property. This includes things like where the water shut-off is located (we have needed this information more than once). What size air filters are needed. We had a tenant call recently after smelling leakage from a propane tank. The fact that the property had a propane tank was not indicated anywhere on the information we received from the homeowner. Any information that is provided up front saves unnecessary time and phone calls for all involved.
  9. 9.) Provide the management company with copies of your HOA rules and requirements. Copies of these should be passed on to your tenant. No tenant can be blamed for breaking the neighborhood rules if they don’t know what those rules are.
  10. 10.) Contact information. This one seems so obvious that I can’t believe I need to include it. I am including it, so what does that tell you? Be sure the management company has your complete current contact information including address, working phone number and email address.

The above items are actually a good way for you to screen your property management company as well as a way for them to get to know you. If the company is not thorough and efficient with you, they will probably not be with your tenants, either.

What can you add to the list?

Photo: DanBrady

About Author

karen rittenhouse

Karen Rittenhouse has been investing in real estate full time since January 2005. In that time, she has purchased hundreds of single family properties, opened a full-service real estate company, a property management company, a coaching/training business, and written three books on real estate.


  1. Karen,

    That’s a good list for property owners who AREN’T using a management company too – just have to change the context a bit for each one to put the tenant’s perspective on those items.

    As for item 6, leaving utilities on is not always sufficient for evening showings; some properties were built with wall switches that operate receptacles, expecting a table or floor lamp to be plugged in; somebody has to make sure that a lamp is plugged in and left in the ON position so the wall switch call illuminate the room on entry and turn off the light on exit.

    And of course, before giving keys to the tenant, the utilities have to be changed into the tenant’s name for future billing (just a continuation of item 6 from Karen’s list).

    • karen rittenhouse

      Thanks for your comment, Steve.

      So true – never let the tenant move in until you have proof the utilities have been switched to their name, especially if you’re managing for someone else!

      My theory is, if they can’t afford to change the utilities, they can’t afford the rent…

  2. Karen –

    Anyone even thinking of using a property manager should print out this list. Everything in this life works best if you work as a team. Sometimes folks just don’t know “what they don’t know”. Thanks for putting together this comprehensive guideline.


  3. Karen,

    Thanks you for this post. This is great information when turning a house over to a pm. I would like to make a followup request. What would be 10 items you suggest when someone already has a property manager. I am all for improving any working relationship.


  4. Karen, Thanks for your insight in the world of Property Management so help see better what it is that these folks look for although we can all agree some of this is common sense but its not uncommon for things fall under the radar even some of the more obvious things.

  5. Hi Karen,
    Good tips to help start the manager/owner relationship off right.
    On the flip side, in your mind, what can owners expect from good managers? Please include frequency of updates, response time, and time to fill vacancies.

    • Hi Tiffany:
      Great questions!
      We ask homeowners to communicate through email. Easier for us and creates a paper trail. We answer 99% of the time the same day. Only exception would be sometimes on the weekends.

      Time to fill vacancies depends upon the property. We do our best to inform client what their property needs – cleanliness, wall color, landscaping, etc. If a client refuses to respond, we can’t help that their property stays vacant. We market “everywhere”! We often fill properties within 48 hours – average is 2 weeks.

      We like to set expectations low as far as communication. They hear from us if a property goes vacant or needs repair and when it is filled. Other than that, they just get a check from us once a week and can relax knowing we’re taking care of things.

      Thanks for your question!

  6. Ali Boone

    Great article, Karen! As an owner, I always appreciate perspectives from the other side so I know how to work best with everyone. I’d say to add to the list would be a general- don’t micromanage the manager. This is assuming the manager is doing a proper job (because a lot don’t and do have to be micromanaged, which should lead to firing). If the manager is doing a good job (which I think is more obviously apparent than people think it would be), then let him/her do their job. I’m not a micro manager myself, and would quite frankly be totally out of the loop and just collect my money, but I can imagine that a lot of owners are and that has to be annoying and/or condescending to the manager.

    • Hi Ali:

      You’re so right! I would expect owners to sail to the Bahamas or something and not think about their property except once a month when they receive their check. Those are the “ideal” owners (only slightly more easy to find than the ideal tenant).

      I’m writing about your very comment in my next post!

      Thanks for writing.

  7. Managing an HOA can be tough and we needed an FHA Certification quickly, so we hired Association Online. They’ve been a huge help for us! They organized all the documentation and prepared the whole filing. We spent very little time in the process and got the approval in no time. Our board was happy with the quick turnaround, and the price was very reasonable. We were so pleased with how easy they were to work with, and how stress free the process was for us. You can contact them on (970-226-1324) or visit their website at http://www.associationonline.com

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