What to Ask a Property Management Company

Ask a Property ManagerWhether you are shopping around for a licensed contractor or just trying to find a new restaurant to try out, what better way is there than relying on word of mouth?  Asking friends and family for recommendations for these types of items usually works out pretty well, but, what if you find yourself in need of a property manager for residential property, or a property management company for a commercial business?  This is not a common conversation around the water cooler or the dinner table at Thanksgiving.

You could, of course, ask a business associate, or you can access the internet and Google around, because, after all, you can find everything on the World Wide Web, can’t you?  But, a quick Google will tell you that there are many property management companies “out there”… but, which ones are reliable and whom should you trust and most of all, which one is a perfect fit for you?

First, most large property management companies would have a website which would explain to you, even before you sought a consultation with a representative from that company, everything you need to know.  In fact, you might have even compiled a list of questions to ask a potential property management company, either in your head or on paper.  Perhaps that website answered everything you wanted to know.  But, does that mean that this is a green light to hire them?  Not necessarily.  You owe it to yourself to do due diligence because hiring a property manager or property management company is a big deal.

Most desired in a Property Management Company

Whether you became a new landlord simply by default, or by choice, i.e. you don’t want to sell your present home, though you’ve been relocated with your job, or you collect homes based on bargains, a property manager might be in the cards for you.  If you honcho a huge commercial building with many tenants, a property manager would be a blessing for you.  Either way, hiring a service such as this will make your life easier.  And… sometimes it does become all about YOU.

If you own one or two rental homes and you’re handy at fix-it jobs, and don’t mind the occasional whining from tenants about rent increases or not being able to pay, perhaps those hassles and headaches and occasional drama are fine by you.  But, a property manager can take care of all these issues for you and more.  A property management company will take all matters associated with the commercial building(s) landlord/tenant relationship off your shoulders.  But you need to find the right person or team for the job.  Are they up to it?  Here’s what to ask:

  • Licensing credentials. Ask to see their license credentials and ask what associations that they belong to, the length of time in those associations and if there is continuing education to maintain those credentials.  Though the credentialing process for your property management company team is all-important in your decision to hire them, by all means, just as you would for a contractor, be sure to vet your potential property manager or property management team thoroughly by asking for several references, and be sure to follow up with the names you are given.
  • Duration of the contract. A contract with your property manager or property management company is imperative.  What are the criteria for the contract?  Does it renew year to year?  What hoops must one jump through if you are dissatisfied with this company and want to terminate them?  What are the repercussions for doing so?
  • Fee for services. What is the fee for handling your property – residential or commercial?  What services will you get for the fee they charge for their management services?  Are all services they render, including marketing/advertising inclusive in this fee?  How often must you pay the fee – monthly, quarterly or annually?
  • Do they buy and sell property? Though this might not be of interest to you now, it is good to know if this is one of the services they provide.
  • What bank of contractors will be used? It is important to know that any contractors which will be on the premises are licensed.  Will there be only one contractor’s company used, which would act as an umbrella for various contractors or subcontractors that may be used on an as-needed basis?  Is there an added fee for keeping them available on an emergency (e. 24/7/365) basis?  Included in the query as to the specifics of the contractors being used in conjunction with the property management, would be legal services as well.  A good property management company will be skilled in landlord/tenant relations but occasionally, issues will surface that are beyond the occasional run-of-the-mill disagreements.   For those fractious dealings, perhaps a lawyer may be necessary to quell the dissatisfaction in short order before it reaches a calamity of litigation proportions.
  • Flexibility and willingness to accommodate. How flexible and accommodating will they be to meet your needs?  Ask them how many properties they manage so you know that sufficient attention can be given to your property.  You want to know in advance that they can devote their attention to any problems (whether emergencies or not, large or small) as quickly as possible.  Small problems often morph into large problems very quickly and need to be handled expediently.
  • Screening process is used for potential tenants. Upon receipt of applications for tenancy, how closely are the applicants vetted?  What detailed process do they implement before accepting new tenants?  How are financial transactions handled – how many months for a security deposit, as an example?  Do they require a certified check as a deposit or will a personal or company check suffice?  And, subsequently – how will rent payment transactions be handled?

Although this list is certainly not all-inclusive, it encompasses the criteria that you should consider most important when hiring a property manager or property management company.