woman researching property managers in chair at home

How To Vet A Property Management Company

When it comes to hiring an individual or a company to look after your investment property, it is essential to ask the right questions and do the research. It is important that the property manager you hire is responsible, experienced, trustworthy, and fits with your own personal communication style.

The overall satisfaction of your tenants is dependent on how well your property is managed. If your tenants feel happy, taking care of, and safe, it increases the chances that they will stay put and continue to pay the rent. However, if the property manager is not doing their job, it could lead to extended vacancies and an interruption in cash flow. If you are beginning the interviewing process for Temecula property managers( or other property managers in your area) here’s how to vet them effectively:

Ask For Property Management Referrals

As you vet a property management company, it is important to check online reviews. Do a little online research to see what other customers in the area have to say about their services. Are there any serious online complaints that raise red flags? Along with a general search for online reviews, it is highly suggested to ask friends and family about the property managers that they use. Those closest to you will know your financial goals, communication style, and expectations, and be able to tell you whether or not the property management company they’ve used would be a good fit.

Have An Interview With A Property Manager

interview with a property manager at their glass desk | vetting a property management company

A property manager may look great on paper, however you won’t really know if they will be a good fit for your particular situation unless you meet them in person. Schedule a face-to-face interview and be aware of your first impression. Are they professional? On time? Do they listen more than they talk? This is the person who will be responsible for maintaining your tenant relationships and taking care of your property, so it is important that you feel comfortable with them.

Another thing to consider when hiring a property manager is how close they are to your property. The closer they are, the easier it will be for them to keep eyes and ears on your home. If they are close, it will be quick and easy for maintenance teams and other contractors to get to your property for maintenance, inspections, or emergency repairs. The beauty of investing in rental property is that you don’t have to live nearby to be successful. However, the property manager that you choose should be.

Ask The Right Questions

If you’ve never worked with a property manager before, you may not know what to ask or what to look for. Go into your property manager interview with a set of specific questions. They should be specific to the industry and not the same questions you would ask an attorney or staffing agency. These will help you understand their knowledge of the industry and what plans and procedures they have in place to market your property effectively. Some of these questions can include:

  • Are your fees based on a flat rate or a percentage model?
  • What services does the management fee cover?
  • How many rentals are you currently managing right now?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What are your policies for determining and collecting the rent?
  • How do you handle late payments and evictions?
  • What are my responsibilities as the homeowner?
  • What other management fees can I expect?
  • Are you responsible when the property is vacant?
  • How involved are you in the marketing and advertising of my property?
  • How often do you conduct property inspections?
  • What income and screening requirements do you require from your applicants?
  • On average, how long do properties stay vacant?
  • How often will I get updates, and how will I receive them?
  • Do you mark up maintenance and repair fees?
  • What renovations can I make to boost revenue?

A dependable and trustworthy property management company will be able to answer these questions quickly and with integrity. If you notice that they are giving you vague answers or are unwilling to answer, it could be a red flag.

Read (And Re-read) The Property Management Contract

Man reading property management contract | How to vet a property management company

When you begin to narrow down your choices for your property manager, it is essential to review the contract carefully. This is a binding document, so you should ask questions if you don’t understand sections of the agreement. The document should include vital information such as:

  • Who your primary contact will be and the easiest way to get in touch with them
  • A clear breakdown of their charges
  • A clear explanation of what is required from you to terminate the professional relationship
  • A clear statement of the maintenance and repairs that they are responsible for vs. the maintenance and repairs that you are responsible for
  • When you should expect to receive a rent check each month and how you will receive it (check, direct deposit, etc.)

If these things are not explicitly laid out in the contract, ask for clarification and an updated version before you sign anything. It is entirely acceptable to go back and forth with a possible property management company until you are fully confident in what they offer and what is it expected from you. You both must be on the same page when it comes to what the tenant is responsible for, the details of the lease, and the consequences to the tenant for breaking the lease.

Owning a rental property means making a lot of big decisions. One of these is choosing the right property manager to take over the daily responsibilities required for a profitable and successful investment property. This is no small job and requires careful planning, patience, and research.

Benefit National is a full-service property management company, serving homeowners in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore and surrounding California counties. Call us today, and we’d be happy to answer any questions regarding property management!