It’s a huge call for a landlord, especially for a first-timer, whether to handle rental property operations all by himself or to take help of a property and rental management consultant. Yes, a good property management company can deliver peace of mind, leaving behind rental management chaos and saving ton of time for the Owner. But, the question is if the property management company that you are considering is the right one for you. Although, hiring rental management firm is simple, but identifying the right one requires a proactive mindset.
Here is a list of questions that you must ask a prospective property manager!
a. Where are you located and what locations do you cover?
Location of the property management company decides his response time in case of an emergency. Since, tenants rely on responsive landlords for all their needs, its best to hire a firm that is close to your rental property. If your property is near OMR, Chennai, it is convenient to opt for a property management firm offering services in that location with lowest possible response time.
b.What are the categories of properties do you manage?
Apartments, Independent Houses, Villas – Each one requires different kind of management. Go ahead and ask this question to know the firm’s expertise.
c. What is the experience of your property managers?
Expertise of property managers in handling uncertain situations and rental operations are vital to deliver best of property management services. Hence, it becomes important to understand experiences of property managers who might be allocated to manage your rental property.
d. What are the kinds of services do you offer?
A wide variety of packages are offered by most property management companies. Knowing each one of them in detail and their respective tariffs should give you an idea of what package suits you. A typical rental property management company provides services on the following fronts – marketing, tenant acquisition and screening, tenant on-boarding, agreement handling, repairs and maintenance, eviction, finance and bills handling etc.
Additionally, delve into how finances are handled by the company. Since, you will discover a range of different fee structures knowing breakdown on each one of them, for the services offered, is essential. With regards to repairs and periodic maintenance, make sure you know how costing is put on you on their additional fees and mark-ups and whether these activities will be owned by them or outsourced to a vendor. Find out if you are notified of cost for repairs in advance and the budget threshold above which your consent is required.
Attention! Be aware that the cheapest property management company may not essentially be the best, particularly when mark-ups and other fees are taken into account.
e. How do you market my rental property?
One of the primary offering of any rental property management firm is to ensure low vacancy for your properties. Hence, knowing marketing & advertising systems, and their effectiveness, that they have in place to promote your property is important.
Digital reach out is one space that is finding place in every organization’s marketing campaigns since it is most effective on branding, lead generation and ROI fronts. If a firm that relies only on conventional marketing techniques, take it as a red flag and delve into their strategies in depth before hiring them. Even in the digital marketing space, know the channels they employ to reach out to the target audience.
Some of the contemporary digital marketing strategies include –
Search engine reach out (organic and paid), Social Media (organic and paid ads), Citations/Listings on related online properties in addition to the company’s own, Display ads across websites etc. Although, most companies do not divulge their techniques, getting a hint of how reliable they can be on marketing space is a good start.
f. What is your process to screen prospective tenants?
This question probably should be given utmost importance in comparison to others, because a wrong tenant can mess up your entire rental experience. Highest care should be taken while identifying and on-boarding tenants because you certainly would not want someone who turns out to be dead beats and need to be evicted.
Make sure you know the screening process of the service provider. Some take up this process in-house, while some outsource to third parties. It is ideal, if screening is an ongoing process so that you know what to expect of the already on-boarded tenant. Factors such as employment verification, address verification and ID verification should be inculcated in the screening process.
Attention! Do not hesitate to ask questions, especially about the screening procedure.
g. How to you estimate my properties rental value?
Property Managers with experience in a certain location should be able check their past rental values, factor in current demand, factor in furnishing level of your property to be able come up with a reasonable estimate.
Modern property managers maintain CRM and transaction systems that will help them estimate this more accurately than others.
h. How do you handle a problematic tenant?
This problem should mostly be solved if the property management firm’s screening process is loophole free and if all necessary clauses are mentioned on the agreement. Some property management companies mainly rely on evictions in case of concerns with a tenant. Beware of them; these folks could have weak screening methods in place. However, there are circumstances where evictions become necessary. Understand how the Property Management company plans to deal with those rare situations.
j. Can I have a look into the rental/lease agreement that you sign with the tenant?
It is important to have control over your relationship with your tenants, hence push for agreements – lease or rental, directly with the tenant instead of your property management company signing it.
Additionally,get into the nitty-gritties of the rental/lease agreement. Ideally, the document will be very comprehensive and expect a multitude of likely situations, including whether you want pets in your rental space or not. A good agreement prevents confusion between the landlord and the tenant and should ideally be drafted by lawyers who are proficient in your particular jurisdiction.
k. How do you handle finances?
Although trivial, these are some necessary queries to be put forth to understand the operation of your partner in rental management.
On a final note – Even if you find a property management firm‘s responses favorable to your expectations, it is their accessibility and responsiveness to your concerns should take precedence. Go ahead and take feedback from their past/existing clients on how the company fares on these fronts.