As a landlord, have you ever worked with a terrible property manager? If so, you know the ongoing headache all-too-well.
You might have had some of these experiences with a property management company you weren’t happy with:
- Your tenants call you instead of them when a pipe has been broken for days.
- The property looks like it hasn’t had maintenance work done in years.
- You can’t get a hold of your property manager, even though you’ve called and left dozens of messages.
- Your property sits vacant for months between tenants.
- You realize the contract you signed holds you hostage to these bad practices.
You can avoid this fate by taking the right steps to protect yourself before signing a contract.
Before you start meeting with a property manager, do some research and check out ratings and reviews of property management companies in your area. While they may have excellent answers ready for you in person, past clients might have a different story to tell. And it might not be one you’re interested in being part of.
Once you’ve done your research, meet with several companies and have your list of questions to ask a property manager ready.
By doing your homework and screening your top candidates, you can maintain steady cash flow from your rental property and decrease your frustrations. Come out on top with our list of questions to ask a property manager before hiring.
1. What Services Do You Offer?
What are you looking for in a property manager? You want to find someone that can market, lease, and manage your property and tenants.
This includes providing reliable maintenance, conducting inspections, keeping the property up to code, administering background checks for potential tenants, and keeping up with current tenants.
2 . How Large is Your Staff?
A property management company needs to have enough employees to respond quickly and not be spread too thin. Ask how many properties each employee manages, and if there is someone available to deal with emergencies at your property 24/7.
3. How Long Have You Been in This Business?
Experience is everything when it comes to property management. You want a company that knows all about the industry, and is dependable and knowledgeable.
4. Do You Actively Invest in Real Estate?
It’s a good sign if the company’s leadership actively invests in real estate. This demonstrates an understanding of the industry.
5. How Do You Determine Rent?
A thorough property management team should take several factors into consideration to determine rent. These include a complete comparable market analysis of similar listings near your property. Also, they should factor in unique characteristics of your property such as a hot tub or upgraded master suite.
6. What Fees Do You Charge?
You certainly want to know what you’re getting yourself into when it comes to fees. It’s important to understand if the company charges a flat rate or a rate based on the rent amount. Also, be sure to ask about miscellaneous and maintenance fees. Don’t be caught off-guard with hidden fees!
7. Will I Still Have to Pay if My Property is Vacant?
If the company charges a flat rate for their services, it’s likely you still have to pay when the property is vacant. It’s best to clarify expectations before paperwork is signed.
8. What is Your Marketing Strategy?
As a landlord, you’re losing money every day your property sits empty. Find out what channels the company uses for marketing, their talents for writing property descriptions, and the quality of their photos. Take a look at their current listings and see what you like or dislike about the marketing used.
9. What Types of Properties Do You Manage?
Not all properties are the same. Find out if this company manages commercial space, rental homes, multifamily homes, or apartment complexes. Make sure their experience matches your property.
10. Can I Speak to Past Clients?
Reaching out to references is a great way to see if a company is what they claim to be. If they are hesitant to give you that information, it’s a red flag.
11. How Long Do Your Properties Typically Sit Vacant?
If it’s is more than two to four weeks, run. A good property manager should be able to find new tenants within a month.
12. What Are Your Screening Requirements for Applicants?
Ask about income requirements and background checks. Also see if they check references. Make sure you are on the same page about requirements for tenants.
13. Can I Contribute to the Lease Agreement?
The property manager should be able to create a lease that is customized to you and your property. If there are any rules or regulations that are important to you, you should be able to put them in the lease.
14. How Do You Communicate With Owners?
Will the property manager send you updates? At what frequency will the reports be sent and what information is included? Since you are in this business for the investment, updates are important. You want to know about changes in the market, the condition of your rental, and occupancy details.
15. How Fast Do You Respond to Tenant or Owner Requests?
Whether it’s a burst pipe in the middle of the night or something minor, you need to know how quickly the property manager will respond. Slow response times could inconvenience you or your tenants and cause damage to your property.
16. In What Ways Do You Communicate with Tenants?
Does the management company have a website? How do tenants submit maintenance requests or other information? It’s important to have simple ways to communicate to keep tenants happy.
17. How Do You Collect Rent?
There are several ways to collect rent. Most property managers offer payment by check, money order, or online. If you prefer one of these over the others, be sure to make that clear.
18. Do You Offer Direct Deposit for Owners?
Be clear about how you are paid. This could be by check or direct deposit.
19. Are You Available for Property Inspections?
Regular property inspections are important to catch small problems before they become big. If tenants are mistreating your property, it’s best to know sooner rather than later. Drive by some of the properties they manage and see what condition they are in. Do the properties look like they have regular maintenance and inspections?
Heads up: this service usually requires an extra fee.
20. Can I Pull Out of Our Contract?
Before getting into any contract, it’s important to understand the terms. If the management company doesn’t perform to your standards you need to know how to legally get out of the contract.
Finding the Right Property Management Company
Don’t get stuck with a bad property management company. At the least, it can lead to frustration, and could potentially cost you your investment.
Finding a high-quality property management team elevates your experience as a landlord. Real estate is a lucrative investment when it’s well-maintained and occupied. Therefore, it’s a top priority as a landlord to find a company that will best meet your needs and take great care of your property.
Interview several potential property management companies and ask your list of questions so you can find the best fit for your needs and avoid unwanted surprises. Keep your stress levels down, tenants happy, and property in great shape by investing your time and energy into finding the right fit for you.
As a landlord, you need a management team you can count on to keep your property looking great, your tenants happy, and rent consistently paid on time. Don’t settle for anything less.