by Bruce MacDonald
Finding success as a property manager goes beyond simply renovating apartments and renting them out. In order to truly do the work of property management, you need to know what works and what doesn’t in regards to communicating with tenants, caring for the property, and navigating the legal side of renting. The following nine strategies are essential to growing your career as a property manager.
Fact #1: You Must Screen Your Renters Well
A huge majority of your potential renter-related issues can be eliminated in the initial screening process. However, in order for you to thoroughly screen your applicants, you need to put together a structured system that puts your best interests first. Be sure, however, that this process is both effective and non-discriminatory.
Fact #2: You Need to Make Your Payments Automatic
Why make it harder for tenants to pay their rent? One of the most efficient decisions to make as a property manager is to simplify the parent process. You can do this by requiring that all of your tenants pay their rent online.
Once you switch to online-only payments, you will likely see a huge reduction in the number of late payments that you receive. This is essential, given the fact that most tenants use 50% of their income for rent, which leads to the likelihood of more late payments in the future. Ensure your payments are automated by:
- Require it in Writing
Most states allow property managers to include online payment as a requirement in the lease. However, in other states, you may have to include another alternative method.
- Using an Online Rent Payment Website
There are hundreds of apps and websites that are available for rent collection. Don’t compromise your security for simplification. Be sure that you are using the most reputable company for your rent collection.
Fact #3: Creating an Air-Tight Lease is Crucial
As a property manager, everything has to be in writing. If it’s not part of the lease agreement, you can’t enforce it. This is why your success as a property manager hinges significantly on the way your lease is constructed. Regardless of what type of arrangement you want, it needs to be detailed in writing.
More often than not, a tenant will try to find loopholes or punch holes in their lease to find ways around the rules. It is in this situation that you will be relieved that you put together an airtight lease that will hold up in the event that legal action is taken. If the lease is weakly worded or doesn’t account for every potential problem a renter may create, you’ll find that it is hard for you to defend yourself as a property manager.
Fact #4: Regular Property Inspections Should Never be Ignored
Planning to leave your property to run itself? Think again. To ensure your investment is being properly cared for, it’s best to plan for regular property checks. Schedule a property check at least once every quarter to keep an eye on things.
Oftentimes, during a quarterly check, you’ll find that there are a few things that need to be repaired. Moreover, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your renters if you make it a point to visit every so often.
Fact #5: It’s Important to be Honest, Fair, & Make Repairs in a Timely Manner
Property management is about customer satisfaction more than anything else. If your renters aren’t satisfied, they may break their lease or sign a new one elsewhere when their current lease ends. Avoid having dissatisfied renters by being honest, fair, and making repairs in a timely manner.
Property managers that make a commitment to meeting their renters’ needs as soon as possible will ensure that their tenants are satisfied. This will lead to the development of a positive long-term relationship between you and your renters.
Fact #6: Giving Adequate Notice is a Necessity
There are certain rules property managers must follow when it comes to giving notice. While the specific rules vary from state to state, tenants are legally required to receive proper notice in certain interactions with property managers. This includes the situation of terminating a lease, a property visit or eviction. Most states require property managers give at least 24 hours notice before entering the property.
For example, if you are planning a renovation to install hardwood flooring throughout the apartments, your tenants need adequate notice of this renovation. This includes when the remodeling will take place, how long it will take, and what will be required of them. If you want to ensure you on the legal side of things, don’t skimp on giving proper notice.
Fact #7: You May Withhold a Deposit Only in the Case of Damages
In certain situations, property managers may feel the need to withhold a tenant’s deposit. However, this isn’t always legal. Withholding a deposit because a tenant failed to provide you with the proper amount of notice or because they abandoned their lease isn’t right. Instead, property managers should only withhold the deposit in the event of itemized damages. As would be the case with late fees, rent, or the cost required to repair damages.
Moreover, it is also illegal to “double dip” into a tenant’s rent. Meaning, while you can hold a renter accountable for the rest of their rent after they have given you notice, you can’t accept a replacement renter’s deposit if you have already accepted the new rent from the current tenant.
Fact #8: You Should Always be Approachable
Far too many tenants share that they are afraid of their property managers. For this reason, many avoid contacting their landlords when they have concerns or problems with their rental. This is why so many property managers find that their tenants don’t reach out to them until there is a serious problem that needs to be fixed immediately.
To fix this, try to be more approachable. While you don’t have to be on call 24/7, encourage your tenants to contact you with any questions or concerns. Tell them your availability and preferred method of contact. Many property managers find that they can connect with their renters more efficiently through text message or messaging apps. By making it easy for your tenants to reach you, you’ll be able to establish a better sense of trust with them.
Fact #9: You Need to Thoroughly Understand Your Role as a Property Manager
As a property manager, you’ll see that you have to take on several other roles. You have to take on the role of a negotiator when trying to sell the property, the task of being a debt collector in the event of a missed or late rent payment, and the role of orchestrating repairs when something stops working.
The responsibilities of a property manager are quite extensive. Keep this guide in mind as you navigate the world of property management.
Bruce MacDonald leads the team at MacDonald Hardwoods, a hardwood flooring store in Denver, Colorado. Since 1986, they have serviced homeowners and landlords with hardwood flooring installations, cleaning, and conducted educational classes to help customers care for their floors. Let Bruce and his team help you choose the right hardwood floors for your home.