This week’s question is about interviewing and hiring property managers, which can be a big job for a small landlord and rental property owner. Veteran landlord and property manager Hank Rossi, who is both a rental property owner, landlord and property manager himself, takes on this question and others from landlords and property managers around the country about their rentals.
Dear Landlord Hank:
What are tips for interviewing property managers? What are key things to establish in the beginning of the relationship that helps both parties? Are there standard responsibilities that all property managers can be expected to oversee like communicating with tenants? Are some responsibilities dependent on the individual agreement like overseeing unit remodels, meeting contractors, etc? What should an out of state landlord consider?
Dear Landlady Audrey,
A great way to find a really good property manager is through a referral.
If you don’t have any friends with rental property, maybe you or a friend know a well-respected Realtor.
Most Realtors concentrate on sales and not rentals but they normally know a good rental person.
I would interview the property manager in person, if possible, to see how they present themselves. Do they come across as a professional, etc?
When you find a good property manager make sure you have a written agreement of what the property manager will do and what it will cost for services. If you have questions, I’d ask via email so you have a written log of communication. Avoid the “he said, she said” with no proof.
If something is not covered in the agreement, then have it written in and initialed.
Property managers should take care of the property like they owned it
Property managers should take care of the property like they owned it themselves.
The property manager should take the owner out of the situation of day-to-day management. However, the property manager should communicate in writing with the owner regarding maintenance needs, complaints, how they were dealt with, and accounting.
The property manager will deal with all the following:
- Tenant relations-complaints
- Rent payment
- Late fees
- Follow up – making sure good repairs were completed in timely manner
- Leasing and re-leasing before current lease is over if tenants aren’t renewing
What is NOT the property manager’s job
It is NOT the property manager’s job to oversee a remodel of a unit.
You should employ a general contractor for that purpose.
The general contractor will get subcontractors in and out of the unit after he hires them and gives them specific jobs for an upfront estimate.
Now if you mean property maintenance instead of remodeling, the property manager should handle that.
You want your unit to be well maintained at all times.
Sometimes painting is required when a tenant leaves. Also patching holes in walls, carpet repair/replacement, leaking plumbing, etc. These issues are something a property manager should take care of for you.
If you are an out of state landlord, then this process is even more important since it’s not easy nor convenient for you to check on your property yourself.
I would have someone you know and trust check on the property from time to time and walk the property. Don’t just do a drive by.
You personally should inspect the property once in a while too, if you can. You can also have the property manager video chat with you as he or she walks around the property and shows you your place.
Other recent Dear Landlord Hank posts you may have missed:
About the author Landlord Hank:
“I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc, in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta. “ Visit Hank’s website here.