Hiring a property management company should always help you minimize rental property problems. But this only works if the company has the skill and expertise to avoid common mistakes, such as being slow to make repairs, not returning phone calls promptly, or keeping poor track of funds.
In the first part of our series, we discuss some common customer service and communication problems to be aware of if you are managing your own rental property, and ways to avoid them by finding a company with a strong track record and skilled managers.
Customer Service and Responsiveness
The importance of having a property management company that responds quickly, efficiently, and resourcefully to tenants and to you cannot be underestimated. Managers who return phone calls and take care of issues promptly improve tenant retention, which keeps rental income flowing. Conversely, tenants tend to move at the first opportunity when they feel their requests are frequently ignored.
In the case of maintenance, issues that aren’t taken care of quickly can lead to big problems. For example, the landlord may be liable if the tenant or a guest is injured or property is damaged due to failure to make needed repairs. Or small, easy-to-fix problems may develop into big, expensive ones.
When considering a company, make sure it has a clear policy for responding to landlord or tenant concerns within a specified number of days. In the event of an emergency, response should be within 24 hours.
Your manager is the face of your business. So you need someone who will communicate with tenants and applicants in an approachable but professional way. At the same time, managers need the ability to address tenant conflicts calmly and effectively and to determine the difference between reasonable and unreasonable tenant demands.
One way to get a feel for how the company deals with tenants is to check both tenant and owner references. A good company should willingly provide both and get strong reviews from both.
Good management companies make every effort to avoid problems by thoroughly vetting all tenants and inspecting the property regularly. But not every issue can be prevented. So when problems come up, you want to make sure the manager knows the laws, can stay cool and calm and will do what’s needed to protect you and your property.
In addition to checking references, researching the company on online review sites will give you a feel for their overall performance. However, don’t judge the company’s performance too quickly before assessing both the positive and negative feedback (if any) about the company. A single negative (or positive) review shouldn’t sway you. Take into account what the majority of the reviews say.
In Part 2 of the series, we’ll discuss financial administration and ethical issues to consider in the hiring process.