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Should You Hire A Property Manager?

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Written by Ryan Scribner
Updated on March 22, 2019

Hiring A Property Manager

When it comes to investing in real estate, you can be a passive or active investor. Active real estate investors are responsible for what’s going on at their property, but how closely they want to manage it is up to them. If you are short on time, and your energy is shot taking care of your OWN home, you should consider hiring a property manager.

Here are the most common tasks a property manager is responsible for:

1. Setting Rent 

The property manager is responsible for setting the right rent to attract stellar tenants to your property. They understand the market in and around the location of the property, have looked at comparable properties in the area, and have determined that sweet spot between a good deal and charging too much for rent. You run two risks by setting your own rent as a real estate investor. If you price it too high, it could take you months to attract a good tenant. On the other hand, if you price it too low, you could cost yourself thousands of dollars in lost rent opportunity.

2. Collecting Rent 

They keep your cash flowing by setting a date to collect rent each month and strictly enforcing late fees. In other words, they’re the heavies. If you aren't interested in being a past due bill collector, they will handle this for you. A property manager will collect the rent checks, and they may even run them to the bank on your behalf!

3. Adjusting Rent

The property manager can increase the rent by a fixed percentage each year, according to state and/or municipal law. This is another risk you run by setting your own rent. If you are not familiar with the average rent in your area, you could be missing out on potential increases. It is not uncommon to increase rent by 3 to 5% per year based on the demand for the property. On the other hand, if you don't know what you are doing and you hike the rent you could lose a perfectly good tenant!

4. Finding Tenants

Property managers find the right tenants for you. They know where to advertise the rental and what to include in their ads. They also understand what attracts tenants, so they can offer ideas to help makeover the property to reach its full potential. Property managers are also familiar with the Fair Housing Act. If you don't know what you are doing and you turn down a perfectly good tenant, you could end up with a discrimination lawsuit on your hands. Yikes!

5. Screening Tenants

This includes running credit checks and criminal background checks. Experienced property managers have seen thousands, of tenants, so they have a better idea of how to pick the right tenants. They know those who will pay their rent on time, stay longer and have a lesser chance of throwing wild parties that disturb neighbors. This screening process could take hours per tenant. It is not uncommon to get a dozen or so interested candidates when you offer a place up for rent, especially in a hot market!

6. Handing Complaints And Emergencies

They are paid to deal with emergency calls around the clock for maintenance requests, noise complaints and they have a long list of contacts to handle emergency situations. If you don't want to deal with the late night phone calls and small maintenance repairs, they will handle it. Each month, they typically send you an itemized list of repairs and emergency calls that were made.

7. Taking Care Of Vacancies

When a tenant moves out, the manager is responsible for inspecting the unit, checking for damages and determines exactly the amount of the security deposit will be returned to the tenant. After move out, they are responsible for cleaning the unit, repairing any damages and finding a new tenant. This can be a lengthy process, so having a property manager to do this for you is a huge plus!

8. Dealing With Evictions

When a tenant does not pay rent or otherwise breaches the terms of a lease, the property manager understands the proper way to file and move forward with an eviction. There is a legal process involved with evictions, and tenants have more rights than most people think. If you don't follow the eviction process to the tee, you could end up in hot water. It is best to leave this one to the professionals!

9. Property Maintenance

This includes performing preventative property maintenance to keep the property in top condition. For example, they are personally in charge of, or must hire someone to exterminate, check for leaks, landscape, shovel snow, rake leaves, clean gutters and remove trash. This maintenance keeps current tenants happy and helps attract new tenants. If you have a property manager, you can keep your mower and rakes in the shed.

10. Facilitating Repairs

When there is an issue, the property manager must fix the problem or hire someone else to do it. They often have a large network of reliable plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other contractors. They often get discounted rates with these tradesmen because of the volume of work they send them. For example, if you call a plumber it might be $150 an hour. If a property manager call a plumber it might be more like $100 an hour.

11. Knowledge Of Landlord Tenant Law

Good property managers have an in-depth knowledge of statewide and national laws regarding the proper ways to:

  • Screen a Tenant
  • Handle Security Deposits
  • Terminate a Lease
  • Evict a Tenant
  • Comply with Property Safety Standards

12. Maintaining Records

The property manager should keep thorough records regarding the property. This should include all income and expenses; list of all inspections, signed leases, maintenance requests, any complaints, records of repairs, costs of repairs, maintenance costs, record of rent collection and insurance costs. These records will be very important come tax season, as there are countless write offs and deductions for real estate investors.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, a good property manager is going to cost you. It may not be feasible for you to hire a property manager when you own just a handful of units. As your real estate portfolio grows, you might want to consider hiring one. They understand the local real estate market better than anyone, and they know how to follow the laws. You should always interview a few property managers before making a final decision on hiring one!

home based businesses
  • Thanks for these good tips on finding a property manager. Finding someone to collect rent for you is really great advice. My husband and I need to find a property manager, so we'll have to check their qualifications first.

  • This is some really good information about property managing. It is good to know that you should think about making sure that you deal with vacancies really well. It is good to know that when you have one you should keep the unit in good condition. That does seem like it would help you out in the long run.

  • I had no idea that a property manager can be responsible for running credit checks and criminal background checks on potential tenants. My father recently purchased a bunch of property that he wants to rent out to different tenants. It seems like it would be smart for him to hire a property manager to help him take care of the day-to-day work of renting out an apartment.

  • Thanks for pointing out how a property manager should keep a record that keeps track of all income and expenses of a property. My parents have started buying several homes and want to rent them out to others during their retirement, but I think that will be a lot of work for them to do all by themselves. A property manager that can help keep track of records would be really helpful to my parents and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed.

  • It's great you talked about the many various things that a property manager can do for you when you hire one to oversee an apartment complex or a rental unit or two. One of these is screening tenants since you would want to make sure that whoever comes in and rents from the place is someone credible and would know how to pay their rent on time and aren't masquerading as criminals in disguise. If I had the chance to own an apartment complex, I know I'd need to look for an experienced property manager since I'm new to owning a rental business.

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