Landlord - Property Manager Bill of Rights

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There is an amazing amount of articles and forum threads on the subject of property management (interviewing, selecting, transitioning, self managing, etc.) with a lot of controversy or pro and cons on the subject of PM vs Self Manage (like this recent article why-you-dont-want-to-be-a-landlord). But nowhere is defined what a property manager is and doing for an owner, and what is not. There is no certification (sure, some states require to be a REA in order to PM for others), no defined list of duties, rights, fees, expectations.

So, if you are using a PM, what is the PM is doing for you? What kind of services, operations, reports, bookkeeping is included in the PM fee? What do you consider normal to be included in the PM fee (or wished it was)? What is not included and you are charged extra for? What is customary for you in your experience with your PM and what is extraordinary (or outrageous)?

If you are self-managing, why do you do it? What is missing from a PM or would convince you to relinquish the task to a PM?

Or if you are PM, what is your PM creed, your PM company mission statement? And what do you think are unreasonable expectations from the owners or wish would be different?

Let's try and bringing it to an apple-to-apple comparison. Figure out where is the disconnect between the "self-manage" and "outsource" camps. Maybe define the “Landlord – PM Bill of Rights” in the process.

To make things simpler, let's restrict the field a bit: I'm talking about the small landlord, not the institutionalized one with comercial/apartment complexes/buildings. The small investor, with SFRs or small multi family, and within 50 miles range. Anything bigger and further, I don't see how one would do it without PM - but even then the questions above still apply.

As for us, we self manage our SFR properties. One of our first property managers never went to the property in 2 years we had him as PM. Whatever problem at the property he would send a repairman or handyman (I assume his connection) and then pass to us the invoice from that person, plus a "service fee" for himself. He charged us $85 at one time to change batteries in 4 smoke detectors. No reports, no drive-by's, no maintenance inspections, no annual inspection, no pictures. Of course on top of the 8% monthly and 50% lease/release fees. We self manage since we fired him.