How familiar is this scenario: it’s a Saturday evening. You’re at home on the couch with your family finishing dinner and getting ready to turn on Netflix, when your iPhone lights up. It’s one of your tenants. Your heart sinks, you immediately get hot in the face, and you contemplate whether to open the message or not. Before you have a chance to think twice, your tenant starts frantically calling you - not once, not twice, but four times.
You run out of the living room to take the call, only to find out your tenant’s toilet has overflowed and needs immediate maintenance (this is the second time in three months this has happened).
They need maintenance now, and you were the one that enlisted yourself from the very beginning. This means that instead of spending your coveted Saturday with your family, you are now in the car driving your way to clean up your tenant’s crap (literally).
If this has been your life as a landlord for way too long, the best solution is to enlist a Property Manager to keep watch over your property. Property Managers handle those late-night emergency maintenance calls, handle rent collection, and ensure that your property stays occupied should your tenant bolt.
But not all Property Managers are created equal, and some are downright lousy. Here’s 5 things to look out for to choose the best and save yourself a Saturday (your family will thank us).
Reputation is Everything
When considering a Property Manager, first look at their reputation. Have you been referred to them by a trusted source or fellow landlord? If you don’t have referrals, what are their Google and Yelp reviews from other landlords (this can require that you also cross-check the reviewer’s profile to ensure that they are who they say they are). If they have good reviews, are there lots of good reviews, or just a few? Do they have a BBB profile, and do they have a rating of an A or higher? Getting a Property Manager that has a steady track record working with lots of landlords is a sign that they might be worth talking to further.
So is Lifespan
The average property manager’s business lifespan is between 8-10 months. It’s not an easy gig, so finding a PM that has its stuff together and has managed to stay in business for years (2+ years) is a great sign that they have systems in place to handle your property with care. Anything under the 2 year mark could indicate that they are newbies, and are more apt to making a management mistake that could cost you a pretty penny.
It’s pretty common knowledge that check-ups are less expensive than hospital bills. The same logic applies to proper real maintenance. If a PM can show policies in place that they perform regular maintenance on properties, this will help your properties run like a well-oiled machine and help prevent any major issues that arise.
Ask for a copy of their policies, and look for whether they list routine preventative maintenance.
Tenant Lease Agreement
Ask for a copy of the Tenant Lease Agreement that they sign with their (and potentially your) tenants. Do they require a deposit? What are their terms for eviction? How is late rent handled? What happens if a tenant breaks the lease? What is their monthly rent, and what is their policy on raising rent in the property value rises?
A PM that has buttoned-up answers to these questions will likely have other aspects of their business buttoned-up as well.
Make sure to meet all the PMs that you are considering face-to-face. What is your first impression of them? Do they appear put-together? Do they use bad language? What is their attitude like towards other professionals?
All of these questions help answer the biggest and most important question: would you rent a property through them, or would you leave their office with a red flag and a bad feeling?
Choosing a buttoned-up PM will not only make future tenants more comfortable, but will also shape who your property attracts, and ultimately help get you higher-quality tenants.
Choosing the right PM is not only essential to helping give you your coveted weekends back, but it’s just as critical for protecting your investment and helping you get the most out of each property.
Any other tips for those working with PMs that you’d like to share? Sound off below!