How do you self manage when traveling?

16 Replies

I recently acquired 3 additional duplexes and currently am self managing those along with one other duplex I have had for 7 or 8 months now.  I have other properties that are not self managed but these properties are near me and so I figured I could save a little cash by managing them myself.  

I travel somewhat regularly and I wonder how people who self manage handle the times when they are not around.  Any thoughts or descriptions about how you handle this would be great.  I'd really like to keep managing these properties since it creates significant extra income for me but I also want to be able to unplug occasionally.  I recall hearing that on show 35 that Paula just hires a temporary property manager to handle it.  Has anyone else had good luck with that?  

Thanks in advance for your replies

@Jeffrey Holst we property manage over 650 units here in Pittsburgh for other clients. I think you can self manage if your properties are in good areas and are good quality. You need to find a repair service basically because all the accounting can be done electronically for the most part. You would also need an attorney to go to evictions for you if needed. Find a good handi man service that may be a little expensive but reliable. I dont think you will have any issues. The more organized you are and the small team that you need to build isnt a super hard task. good Luck

I trade off with other landlords that I know or have one of my kids take over. I remain reachable (phone or email) at all times just in case.

Reality is that if you self manage you are on call 24/7/365. I limit my away vacation time to maximum 1 week stretches a couple of times a year.

@Alex Deacon   Thank you,  I know I can self manage the main issue is how to handle it when I travel.  I tend to go out of country for a few weeks at a time a few times a year.  I am an attorney so evictions arent much of an issue and I have connections with solid property managers locally i just wondered if any BPers managing a small portfolio had any suggestions.  I appreciate the response

I enjoy the proactive nature of question. How long do your travel's typically last @Jeffrey Holst ? We don't self manage any more but when we did, we just tightened up our rolodex of trades and made sure our handyman was going to be in town (or find one that was going to be) while we were gone.  Bear in mind these were typically short trips and by that I mean overnight to 3 weeks. 

@Jeffrey Holst There are many people that don't like these for different reasons, but a good home warranty could help while you are away.  There are some with Tenant interfaces (I'm thinking of Old Republic Home Protection specifically).  You send out a notice to Tenants that effective immediately, any repair requests can be made by going online to and filing a claim.

The system assigns a contractor to the claim once filed, and the Tenant is called directly to schedule.

It would get you by for a few weeks at a time.  That's for sure.

I don't know that you can really have it both ways. If you aren't available 2-3 months a year then you need a property manager. I got a property manager at 6 units and never looked back.

@Chase Gochnauer It might in general, but in this case my other properties are out of state so current management wouldnt be equipped to manage these.  I do have a local manager I could use but as I said I prefer to continue managing these myself if possible.

@Jeffrey Holst what do you need to manage? I mean specifically what situations require you to physically be there?

Collect rent electronically, so you don't need to be there. 

Have a go-to plumber, HVAC, handyman and electrician. Give the tenant their phone numbers and instructions to contact you first, but if they can't reach you in an emergency, they can call the service directly. Have it setup with each vendor that your tenants can order repair service. Worst thing that may happen is an unnecessary call or two, but for the cost avoidance of not hiring a PM, it is worth it.

If you have an eviction or vacancy, you will need feet on the street to deal with it. Everything else can be handled remotely.

My advice is operate your business remotely when you are in town. Even if you are one block away, do everything over the phone. Then when you leave the country, it is no different.

Our strategy:

1) We have a separate cellphone for our LLC.

2)  We query our tenants in the late spring about any small maintenance issues they may have in order to schedule a Handyman Day.  We have our handyman spend a day at the building fixing small things.  This is so you know you are leaving your building in good shape.

3) Schedule your vacations mid-month, so rent collections and the issuing of any POQ is complete.

4) Hand the LLC phone and keys over to the trusted handyman. He has our private cell numbers in case something comes up. (it doesn't)

5) Bonus the handyman generously for babysitting while you are gone. Collect the keys and LLC phone.

Originally posted by @Jeffrey Holst :

This is why I love BP,  @Joe Splitrock I think you are right,  I spend too much time being physically available.  I will definitely work on that part of the deal.  @Bettina F. I really like the separate phone for the LLC makes great sense, i might just do that going forward. Thank you both.

I wouldn't bother with a separate phone. Just get a google voice number and you can set it up to ring / text into multiple numbers. When you are out of town, you can have it ring your handyman too. You will see all the text messages including how your handy man responds. Game changer for managing your tenant calls...

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