They handle everything that deals with the tenant. If you find a good one (it is difficult) they will find them, qualify them, enforce rules, evict them and converse with them. They will charge you extra for anything else. New water heater, AC, or light bulb they usually have their own employee fix it and charge you a heavy fee. If you find a good one they are worth their weight.
I would suggest managing your own for the first few. It's not very difficult and you will get a hands on experience that will allow you to better qualify a good property manager.
I'll give you a down and dirty...
List, Lease, Show, Maintain, Market, Screen tenants, put up with tenants***********. Let me stop for a second to say that tenants can be among the most perplexing individuals to walk the face of the earth. Most realtors want nothing to do with PM or rentals simply because of tenants.
Don’t let my simple one word descriptions make it seem like an easy task. A lot goes in to each. Of course, with one property, you could easily handle it yourself if you are local and have the time. PM's have the resources to get repairs and maintenance done in a timely fashion, and we all know things go wrong at the absolute worst times. Well with PM's that’s just another Tuesday afternoon. So in a nutshell, you are paying for these professionals to provide you a peace of mind.
I have 2 PM managing my properties, in 2 different states.
The one I have in MD is the 3rd, the 1st did it for along time and wanted to get out of the business, the 2nd was horrible and I immediately found another, the 3rd. The 2nd passed all the questions and vetting but when it came down to actually doing the job, they failed. The 3rd was good at the start and is now better due to my nagging and suggestions to help their business, like ACH. They didn't have the most up to date in technical abilities or the understanding that I was not going to pay to replace every light bulb. They charge for every visit - too much nickel and diming me. They have gotten much better over the years and the upside to this is that they handled a tenant that thought she could run over us both. So the cost of collecting rent, handling any issues, marketing, fixing major issues and checking that my property is being kept up is worth it.
The one I have here in FL, well let's just say I pay for the same service and in the beginning it was great. After 2 years though there has been management and staff changes and it shows. This morning I'm up early to send a email that will be followed up with a call later to address why they took too much fees from my draw. Anyway, they do the same but cost more than the MD PM. I've seen found another PM company that I've been talking to for a couple of months and will be looking to switch to get a property under them as a trial - their fees are less and they have a different structure in place so I talk to one person instead of 2 or 3. Their staff is not going through growing changes like the current. They also discount for multiple properties that the current doesn't do in addition to a better fee structure for me.
If you think you can manage PMing your properties you should try but even armed with a lot of knowledge it's still not something I would do. I don't have the time and what time I do spend on approving or signing is enough for me. They also know the rules and regs and will do evictions if it came to that. I am not one for keeping up with what the regs say you can and can't do and that's important.
How many times have I heard someone say they won't rent to a protected class and I think you are asking for trouble.
So far I have had and have good tenants with the exception of one that "tried" to dupe us and failed. Any misunderstandings have been between me and the PM - like neither of us reading the lease agreement on who handles pest control. My bad and I take responsibility because I jumped the gun and didn't refer to the lease agreement. I should not have paid for things like that. And so should the PM know but what extent, yes they should have known as well but I SHOULD have known and said no, the tenants are responsible.