What should Owners look for when hiring a Property Management Company?

Melissa East – Licensed Property Manager and REALTOR in Erie, PA

I speak with Owners of Single Family Homes, Investment Properties, and Commercial space on a daily basis. One thing that surprises me is how many Owners don’t take the time to ask important questions, skipping straight to:  “how much will this cost me?”  Hiring the right Property Manager for your needs is an asset to the Owner and definitely not a time when you would want to cut costs. A great Property Manager will help you save both time and money over the long run, which is why it’s so important to really know your options. Below, I’ve offered a few key questions that will help you make the best decision when hiring a Property Manager.

Do they have updated technology or are they doing all tasks manually trying to keep up?

It’s important that your PM Company has updated technology so that the time they spend is focused on the important tasks.  How do they collect rent? Do tenants have multiple ways of paying rent? Can they pay online? How do Owners get paid? How do tenants notify the PM with maintenance issues? What does the Owner Statement look like? How do they know if a tenant is late in rent or never paid the electric bill?

How often do they actually perform routine inspections of the property/unit(s)?

  1. Property Managers should perform multiple inspections throughout the lease term.  By doing this, they should be able to keep problems at bay.  Example:  the unit has a no pet policy, PM does inspection and finds evidence of food dishes, litter box, leash, or toys for the animal around the unit, etc.  The PM will notify the tenant they are in breach of their lease/contract and if not rectified, eviction proceedings could start.

  2. You’d be surprised on how many actually DO NOT perform routine inspections.  Always ask to see an inspection report.

How will your Property Manager address and handle maintenance issues?

  1. You should permit your Property Manager to make some decisions on your behalf.  You could agree to reach a fixed dollar amount for repairs- for example, if a repair is $250 or under, the PM can authorize a repair to take place.  If over that figure, they will need to obtain estimates and communicate with the Owner to make the decision on how to proceed.

  2. Your Property Manager should accept emergency phone calls 24/7 and be able to handle the situation.  Example:  Water pipe broke in basement and there is water everywhere, PM should be able to walk the tenant through locating a shut off valve to stop the water and give instructions to begin a cleanup process, while immediately coordinating with the appropriate contractor/vendor to help remedy the problem.

  3. Does the PM have someone to provide coverage while they are on vacation or unavailable?

Does your Property Management Company screen tenants?

The answer should always be YES!  Can they perform credit and/or criminal background checks? What types of questions do they ask over the phone when prospect tenant calls asking for more information about a property for rent? 

Do your homework!  Do as much research on the Property Management Company as you can.

  • Check their website out.

  • Read their reviews (Facebook, Google, Realtor.com, Zillow.com, etc.)

  • Do they have social media pages, look at them and read comments/reviews

  • How long have they been in business?

  • Ask for referrals!

  • What are others saying about their company?