How to Hire a Property Manager for Your Rental Property

Ally Kubarych

Ally Kubarych

Last Updated: June 27, 2024Published On: March 28, 2024
A real estate agent shaking hands with a client in front of a model house. The handshake symbolizes the closing of a deal on a new home.

Considering a Property Manager?

It’s a common dilemma for landlords who find their portfolio expanding, or themselves relocating far from their investments. Managing even a single rental property can be a complex dance of legal requirements and financial details. The decision to outsource this can relieve a significant burden.

If you’re pondering whether to hire a property manager or actively looking for one, you’re making a wise consideration. Let’s delve into the advantages of professional management, understand the signs that it’s time to get help, and learn how to choose the right manager for your properties.

Now, let’s start with the basics.

What Exactly Does a Property Manager Do?

A property manager is the go-to company that makes sure everything runs smoothly in a building or rental property. Think of them as the bridge between the landlord and the residents. They handle the nuts and bolts of property management — from finding residents and collecting rent to managing repairs and fielding middle-of-the-night emergencies.

It’s not just about keeping the property in shape, though. A great property management company has a knack for juggling various tasks while keeping everyone happy. They’re organized, have great communication skills, and a solid understanding of real estate and local laws. For property owners, having a reliable property manager means less stress and more peace of mind knowing their investment is in good hands.

Property Management: Is It Worth It?

Property management can be a game-changer for real estate investors, offering numerous advantages like streamlined operations and stress reduction. However, it’s not without its downsides. In this detailed exploration, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of hiring a property management company. From the peace of mind that comes with handing off day-to-day responsibilities to a professional to the potential drawbacks like reduced control and additional expenses, understanding these aspects is crucial.

Whether you’re a seasoned investor or a newcomer contemplating your first hire, this guide aims to provide balanced insights to help you make an informed decision about property management.

Benefits of Hiring a Property Management Company

Hiring a property management company can feel like a big step for a property owner, but it’s often one that brings numerous benefits, especially if you’re looking to streamline operations and maximize your property’s potential. Let’s dive into some of the top advantages of bringing a professional management team on board.

  1. Less hassle, more freedom: First off, property management companies take a load off your shoulders. They handle the day-to-day tasks that come with owning rental property, such as dealing with resident issues, maintenance requests, and emergencies that pop up at the least convenient times. This means less stress for you and more time to focus on other investments or simply enjoy your life without constant interruptions.
  2. Quality residents: Finding good residents can be a game of luck if you’re not sure what to look for. Property management companies have the experience and resources to screen residents thoroughly, which includes checking their credit, rental history, and even criminal background. This rigorous process ensures that your property is occupied by reliable residents who pay on time, take care of the property, and rent for longer periods, reducing turnover and vacancy rates.
  3. Timely rent collection: Ensuring that rent is paid on time every month is crucial for maintaining cash flow. Property management companies have systems in place to collect rent efficiently and handle the not-so-pleasant task of eviction if things go south. This structured approach keeps your cash flow consistent, which is essential for any property owner.
  4. Cost-effective maintenance: Regular maintenance can prolong the life of your property and enhance its value. Property management companies typically have a network of trusted contractors and service providers who can perform maintenance and repairs at competitive prices. This not only saves you money but also ensures that repairs are done promptly and efficiently, keeping residents happy and preserving the condition of your property.
  5. Regulatory compliance: Keeping up with the housing laws and regulations can be daunting. Property management companies are well-versed in local, state, and federal regulations, ensuring that your property is compliant and helping you avoid potential legal issues.

In essence, while hiring a property management company does come with a cost, the range of benefits from professional resident handling to maintenance and legal compliance can significantly outweigh the expenses. It’s an investment in peace of mind and the sustainability of your property’s success.

Drawbacks of Property Management Services

Hiring a property management company can offer numerous benefits, as outlined previously, but it’s also important to consider the potential drawbacks before making a decision. Here are some of the cons associated with engaging a property management service.

  1. Cost: One of the most immediate drawbacks is the cost. Property management companies typically charge a percentage of the monthly rental income, which can vary but often ranges from 8% to 12%. This fee can significantly eat into your profit margins, especially if the property is not generating a high rental income or if there are frequent vacancies.
  2. Less control: When you hand over the reins to a management company, you might feel like you’re losing some control over your property. The company may make decisions regarding residents, maintenance, and day-to-day management without consulting you at every turn. For property owners who prefer a hands-on approach, this can be frustrating and may lead to dissatisfaction if the company’s choices do not align perfectly with the owner’s expectations.
  3. Inflexibility in Rental Agreements: If you have a creative idea for flexible leasing terms to attract more tenants, you may find a challenge if you’re working with a property management company. These organizations typically employ standardized contracts that are excellent for ensuring legal coverage. However, these rigid agreements often don’t offer the flexibility needed for innovative or mutually advantageous modifications.
  4. Impersonal Handling of Disputes: When it comes to resolving disputes, property management companies often adhere strictly to protocols. This approach ensures objectivity but can sometimes come across as impersonal. It might resolve issues legally but not always to the satisfaction of all parties involved, possibly affecting tenant retention.

In summary, while a property management company can relieve much of the burden of day-to-day property management, it’s essential to weigh these potential downsides against the benefits. Costs, decreased personal control, variability in service quality, and potential communication issues are factors to consider carefully. Choosing the right company—one that aligns closely with your values and maintains a transparent relationship—can mitigate many of these cons.

When is Hiring a Property Manager a Good Choice?

For any homeowner, it’s important to know if hiring a property management company is the right decision. This choice often hinges on various factors, from the number of properties you own to your personal commitment to managing real estate. Here are scenarios and considerations that can help you determine if it’s time to bring a professional on board.

  1. You have multiple properties or rental units: The more properties or rental units you own, the more complex and time-consuming managing them becomes. Each additional property adds a layer of complexity in terms of resident management, maintenance, emergencies, and legal compliance. If your real estate portfolio has grown to the point where the daily responsibilities are too much for you to handle alone or are detracting from your ability to expand further, a property manager can streamline these processes.
  2. You don’t live near your properties: Proximity is crucial in managing rental property effectively. If you live far from your properties, you’ll likely struggle with routine management tasks, such as conducting property inspections, handling resident complaints, and overseeing maintenance work. Hiring a local property management company ensures that there is always someone nearby to handle these tasks swiftly and efficiently, which can enhance resident satisfaction and help maintain the value of your property.
  3. You’re not interested in hands-on management: Not everyone has the desire or the time to deal with day-to-day property management tasks. If you view your property investment as a passive income source rather than a full-time job, hiring a property manager can be a smart choice. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of ownership without the obligations of managing the operations.
  4. Your time is limited: Even if you enjoy managing your properties, there might come a time when you simply do not have enough hours in the day to handle all aspects of management effectively, especially if you have another job or business. Property managers can help free up your time so you can focus on other priorities, whether it’s your career, family, or even just pursuing leisure activities.
  5. You’re overwhelmed with management tasks: If managing your property has become a source of stress or if you find yourself unable to keep up with the demands of being a landlord, such as keeping track of leases, handling resident disputes, and maintaining the property, it might be time to hire a professional. A property manager can help alleviate these stresses and ensure that your property is being managed effectively, which can improve both your physical and mental well-being.
  6. You want to grow your rental business: If your goal is to expand your rental investment portfolio, working with a property management company can provide you with the expertise and resources needed to scale effectively. They can handle the logistical aspects of managing additional properties, allowing you to focus on acquisition and strategy.

In conclusion, hiring a property manager is a strategic decision that depends largely on your personal circumstances, financial situation, and long-term goals. If managing your property is becoming too cumbersome, uninteresting, or is simply taking too much time away from other priorities, it might be time to consider professional management. With the right property manager, you can ensure your property is in good hands, potentially increasing your property’s value and profitability over time.

When You Should Rethink Hiring a Property Manager

While hiring a property manager can offer significant benefits, there are also times when it might not be the best decision. Understanding when not to engage a property management service is crucial for maintaining control over your investments and ensuring they remain profitable. Here are some scenarios where hiring a property manager might not be necessary or advisable:

  1. You’re Emotionally Invested in Your Property: If you feel a strong emotional connection to your property, managing it yourself could be more satisfying than entrusting it to a management company. This direct involvement ensures that every aspect of the property is handled according to your specific preferences and emotional values. If your property has sentimental value or represents a significant part of your heritage, personal management helps preserve these elements, something a third-party service may not prioritize.
  2. Your Budget for Maintenance is Limited: If you’re cautious about upfront costs for maintenance and repairs, consider carefully before hiring a property management company. Such companies often suggest enhancements or fixes before a new tenancy to improve the property’s appeal and value. While these investments can lead to higher rents and longer tenancy periods, they might conflict with your immediate financial plans. If you prefer to control costs and make decisions based on your judgment of necessary repairs, managing the property yourself could avoid potential disagreements and better align with your financial strategy.
  3. You’re a Passionate DIY Handyman: If you’re a seasoned DIY handyman who enjoys the hands-on approach to maintenance and repairs, self-managing your property could be the best route for you. Property management companies typically employ a network of licensed vendors and follow strict procedures to ensure maintenance meets their standards. This can limit your ability to personally handle repairs, as they may prefer professional vendors to comply with their quality assurances. By managing the property yourself, you retain the freedom to apply your skills and make repairs on your terms, ensuring that every task is completed to your personal standards and satisfaction.
  4. You enjoy managing your properties: If you find joy and satisfaction in the day-to-day management of your properties, bringing in a property manager might diminish this aspect of your investment experience. For some landlords, direct interaction with residents and hands-on management are rewarding parts of owning rental property.
  5. You have the time and expertise: If you have the time to manage your properties and are knowledgeable about property laws, resident rights, and maintenance issues, you might not benefit much from a property manager. Those who are well-versed in real estate management can often handle the responsibilities effectively on their own, making the cost of hiring a property manager unnecessary.
  6. Your residents are long-term and low-maintenance: If you have stable, long-term residents who require minimal oversight and rarely have issues that need resolving, the benefits of a property manager might not outweigh the costs. In such situations, the effort required to manage the property remains minimal.

In conclusion, while property managers can provide valuable services, they are not always necessary. Assessing your individual situation—considering factors like proximity, number of units, profit margins, personal interest, and resident stability—can help you determine if hiring a property manager is the right choice. For many property owners, a direct, hands-on approach not only saves money but also allows for greater personal satisfaction and a deeper understanding of the real estate market.

Finding Your Perfect Property Manager: a Step-by-Step Guide

Choosing the right property manager can be a pivotal decision for your real estate investment. A good property manager not only handles the day-to-day tasks of managing your property but also helps you maximize your investment’s potential. Here’s a detailed guide on how to select a property manager that aligns with your real estate goals.

Understand Your Needs

Before you start looking for a property manager, it’s crucial to understand what you specifically need from them. Consider the size and type of your property, the complexity of managing it, your long-term goals, and what specific services you require. Do you need someone just to handle resident relations and maintenance, or do you need a full-service management company that can also help with financial planning and legal compliance? Setting clear expectations will help you narrow down your choices to those who specialize in what you need.

Start with Referrals and Reviews

Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the property management industry. Start by asking fellow property owners and real estate professionals for recommendations. Once you have a few names, check online reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, or industry-specific sites like All Property Management. Look for managers with consistently positive reviews that highlight reliability, communication, and problem-solving.

Check Qualifications and Experience

A reputable property manager should have a solid background in real estate management. Check their qualifications, which should include a relevant professional designation such as a Certified Property Manager (CPM) from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) or a member of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). These credentials indicate that the manager has received training and adheres to industry standards.

Experience is equally important. Look for a property manager who has experience managing properties similar to yours. If you own a multifamily complex, a manager who primarily handles single-family homes might not be the best fit. Ask potential managers about their years in the business, the types of properties they manage, and their experience dealing with common issues that might arise with your property.

Evaluate Their Management Agreement

The management agreement is the binding contract between you and the property manager, so it’s essential to understand what you’re agreeing to. Review the terms carefully with an eye on several key components:

  • Services Provided: What exactly will the property manager handle? Common services include marketing your rental, screening residents, collecting rent, handling maintenance and emergencies, conducting inspections, and managing finances.
  • Fees and Payment: Understand all costs involved, including management fees, leasing fees, and any other potential charges. Management fees typically range from 8% to 12% of the monthly rental income. Make sure you know what you’re paying for and that there are no hidden fees.
  • Termination Clause: Look at how either party can terminate the agreement and any fees associated with termination. It’s crucial to have a way out if you’re unsatisfied with the service.

Assess Their Communication and Customer Service Skills

Effective communication is crucial in property management. During your initial consultations, note how the property manager communicates with you. Are they prompt and clear in their responses? Do they seem organized? You need someone who will keep you informed and can handle resident relations professionally.

Also, consider their customer service approach. A good property manager should be approachable and responsive to both you and your residents. They should be able to handle disputes and issues with diplomacy and professionalism.

Understand Their Maintenance Handling Procedures

Maintenance will likely be a significant part of your property management needs. Ask how the manager handles both routine maintenance and emergency repairs. Do they have a network of reliable, cost-effective contractors? How do they decide whether to repair or replace something? Knowing these procedures can give you insight into their efficiency and thoroughness.

Evaluate Their Resident Screening Process

The quality of residents in your property can significantly influence its overall success and profitability. A proficient property manager employs a comprehensive and rigorous screening process and a professional screening tool to identify the most reliable and suitable residents. This screening process typically includes several crucial checks:

  • Credit Scores: A resident’s credit score can provide insight into their financial responsibility. A good property manager looks for residents with a history of timely payments, indicating they are likely to pay rent on time.
  • Rental History: Examining a resident’s previous rental experiences is essential. This involves contacting past landlords to verify the resident’s behavior, payment history, and reasons for leaving. A good track record suggests a lower risk of issues.
  • Employment Verification: Confirming a resident’s employment status and income ensures they have a stable source of income to cover rent and other expenses. Property managers often require recent pay stubs or contact the employer directly to verify employment.
  • Criminal Background: A background check helps identify any past behaviors that might pose a risk to property security or community safety. However, it’s crucial to approach this with sensitivity to privacy and fairness, ensuring compliance with local laws and the Fair Housing Act.

Ask for a Sample Monthly Report

Transparency is key to a successful relationship with your property manager. Most reputable managers will provide detailed monthly reports that include collected rents, incurred expenses, and maintenance updates. Ask for a sample report to see how they document and communicate these details. It should be clear, comprehensive, and easy to understand.

Make Sure They Know Local Laws

A proficient property manager must possess a deep understanding of local property laws to navigate the complexities of real estate management effectively. This knowledge encompasses a broad spectrum of regulations, from resident rights and landlord obligations to specific local ordinances that govern property management. Here’s a detailed look at why this expertise is crucial:

  • Resident Rights: A good property manager ensures that residents’ rights are always respected. This includes the right to a habitable living environment, the right to privacy, and protection against unjust eviction. For example, they must ensure that any entry into a resident’s apartment is legally justified and that proper notice has been given.
  • Landlord Obligations: They must also be fully aware of the landlord’s responsibilities. These can include the duty to maintain the structural integrity of the property, ensuring all electrical, plumbing, heating, and HVAC systems are in safe working condition. An adept manager will schedule regular inspections and maintenance to comply with these obligations and keep the property up to code.
  • Security Deposits: Handling of security deposits is a common area where specific legal knowledge is vital. The property manager must know how to properly hold and return these deposits, understanding the state and local regulations that determine the maximum amount that can be charged, the allowable deductions, and the timeline for returning the deposit post-tenancy.

Schedule a Meeting at One of Their Managed Properties

If possible, arrange to meet the property manager at one of the properties they manage. This can give you a firsthand look at how they operate. Observe the condition of the property, ask about their routine maintenance schedule, and see if the residents are satisfied with their management.

Trust Your Gut

Finally, trust your instincts. You need a property manager you can trust and feel comfortable with as they will be handling a significant investment on your behalf. If something feels off during your interactions, consider looking elsewhere.

By taking these detailed steps, you can choose a property manager who will not only care for your property but will also help you achieve your investment goals. Remember, the right property manager is a partner in your investment journey.

In Conclusion

Hiring the right property manager is a crucial decision that can significantly affect the success of your rental property. It requires careful consideration of their qualifications, experience, and the range of services they offer. Remember to thoroughly review the management agreement to ensure it aligns with your expectations and provides flexibility.

Effective communication and a strong rapport with your property manager are essential. You need to feel confident that they will handle your property with care and professionalism, maintaining open lines of communication with both you and your residents. Their ability to manage day-to-day operations effectively can greatly influence your property’s profitability and the satisfaction of your residents.

Ultimately, the right property manager acts as a partner in your investment journey. By choosing wisely, you ensure that your property is in good hands, freeing you to focus on broader investment opportunities or simply enjoy the benefits of ownership with fewer hassles.

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