Four Characteristics to Look for When Hiring a Property Manager
Even if you own an A-Class rental with decent cash flow, poor property management can sink your profits faster than a bad tenancy. Hiring a property manager is a big expense, averaging as much as 10 to 12 percent of your gross monthly rents. The secret to avoiding mediocre management often means looking beyond the monthly fee a company charges and looking at who will be in charge of your property. The most common complaints rental owners have about property managers include sketchy communication, the approval of unnecessary repairs, and leniency with wayward tenants. To find a management team that stands apart from the crowd, look for the company that shows these characteristics:
Accessibility to Clients and Tenants
If your call or email inquiry about property management services is not returned within a few hours, move on to the next company. Your call represents new business, and this should be a great incentive for that property management team to get back to you. If a company is slow to respond initially, it won't improve when you sign on as a client. When you do make contact, a good property manager will take the time to learn about your property and listen to your concerns before talking price or pressuring you to sign a contract. Your property manager should be accessible to you either by email, text or phone and have a support team available to take calls when in the field or out of town. Similarly, managers who are unresponsive to emergencies or handling service requests is a common reason why good tenants choose not to renew their lease agreements.
Knowledge of Landlord-Tenant Rights
Before hiring a property manager, ask some questions about basic landlord-tenant law that should be common knowledge in your state. A good property manager will be able to explain to you the legal process in issuing a rent increase as well as provide you a basic outline of what happens in the eviction process. The person who manages your property should also be able to explain the difference between a rental agreement and a lease and inform you about the advantages and liabilities of each contract. A property manager unfamiliar with landlord rights, may hesitate to post three day notices to pay or quit or worse, post the wrong notice causing unnecessary delays increasing legal expenses. Good property managers know the rights of your tenants and your state's Fair Housing laws. An inexperienced property manager may overstep the boundaries of those rights and land you, the owner, in legal hot water.
Set Limitations With Tenants and Vendors
Your property manager represents your interests when leasing to a tenant or obtaining an estimate to do a repair from a vendor. You want that person who represents you to rein in unreasonable requests made by tenants such as their demand to install a new set of blinds when one slat is missing or replace the currently functional bath cabinet because of a few chipped places on the counter top. Moreover, you don't want your tenants taking the upper hand in lease negotiation, such as asking for a rent reduction in exchange for a longer lease or talking the property manager into giving them possession before all secured funds are paid. Similarly, a good property manager will set cost limits for the vendor who services the property. Examples of this would include requesting the vendor provide an estimate prior to any repair done or obtaining at least two estimates from different vendors if the cost to repair exceeds a certain amount. Typically, a good property manager will even ask that the initial estimate fee be credited to the repair if one is required.
Resourceful in Marketing Your Property
A good property manager will have a plan to market your property before a tenancy ends. This includes researching market rents for the area and having pictures ready to go to post online. Your property manager should be timely in answering emails from renter inquiries and doing call backs when announcing upcoming show dates. Even if it is a slow time of year, there are a few things a property manager can do to improve your property's appeal to renters when showing the property, such as making sure the yard is well-maintained, check that all lights are working and that the home's interior is kept tidy. A creative property manager will go the extra step to add a few decorative touches to make your property stand out from the competition, such as a decorative vase on the kitchen counter or a large pot of marigold flowers beside the front entrance.
If your current property management team lacks the characteristics listed above, it may be time to shop around for a new one.
What characteristics or traits make your property management team a great one?