Residential property management requires a degree of professionalism and expertise acknowledged by state-specific licensure that demonstrates a manager’s education, experience, trustworthiness, and understanding of the industry, as well as required business practices specific to property management.
Most property managers are required to hold a property management license or a real estate broker’s license in order to conduct real estate transactions, which includes those related to managing and leasing rental properties. Only a couple of states do not have this requirement.
What Is a Property Manager Vs. A Real Estate Broker?
Property management licenses and real estate broker licenses are granted by state governments, real estate boards, or local authorities in the state where a manager conducts real estate transactions.
A property manager acts as the middleman between renters and the rental property owner. State regulations designate specific practices all property managers must follow for managing tenant and owner funds and collecting fees. States also establish landlord-tenant laws that all property managers must follow, designed to protect tenants, owners, investors and managers. Part of these state requirements includes proper licensing to demonstrate an understanding of landlord-tenant laws and standard property management processes.
A property manager may work individually managing rental properties or as part of a larger management company.
Any individual looking to become a property manager will find general information below about types of licenses and their requirements needed to legally manage rental properties for owners and investors. A landlord who is considering hiring a property manager for their investment property should verify that all potential candidates hold a valid license for your state.
Depending on which state you manage rental property in, you are most likely required to acquire a Real Estate Broker’s License or a Property Management License.
Real Estate Broker’s License
A real estate broker’s license is the most commonly required type of accreditation needed for property management. You should always check with your state’s real estate commission to find out which type of license you need as a property manager.
Many key components of property management are considered a real estate activity under most state’s real estate licensing laws, meaning that any person or company that engages in the lease or rental of real estate, offers real estate or who lists, offers, attempts or agrees to list real estate must have a real estate broker’s license.
Broker’s License Requirements
- Age: Most licensed real estate brokers must be 18 years of age or older. In some cases, the age requirement is 21 to obtain a real estate broker’s license.
- Exam: In most states, one must pass the broker’s exam, which typically includes questions about property management.
- Trustworthiness: Most states will not grant a license to anyone who is under indictment for forgery, theft, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, or any other felony implying character untrustworthiness.
- Education: One must complete a certain amount of classroom hours of approved broker training in order to receive a broker’s license. The amount of required educational class time is set by the state issuing the license and ranges from 10-100 hrs.
- Experience: In order to receive a real estate broker’s license, an applicant must demonstrate experience in the industry usually as a licensed salesperson, with real estate being the principal occupation, and have been actively practicing real estate in the time period preceding application.
- Additional requirements may include extra safety screening, high school diploma or equivalent, and proof of state residency or US citizenship.
- Exceptions: There can be special circumstances where a license is not required for an on-site manager or managers who only work with one location under an employer’s license. Other cases only require individuals that are directly involved in leasing activities to acquire a specific license. Leasing activities may include: showing the property, processing applications, negotiating lease terms, collecting rent payments, or issuing owner payments. This means that individuals who perform administrative tasks, accounting, or maintenance for a property manager or property management firm may not need to be license. In other cases, individuals may be covered by an employer’s broker’s license.
Property Management License
While a real estate broker’s license is the most common type of requirement for property managers, some state real estate boards require a property management license to engage in business related to leasing and managing rental properties.
Property management licenses involve pre-licensing instruction or coursework from an approved source, passing a property managers exam, and continuing education classes. To receive a property management license, one must also be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate or equivalent, be in good standing with the state’s real estate board, and in some cases pass a criminal background check.
Exceptions: In some circumstances, holding a broker’s license means that an individual does not need to have a separate property management license, as a broker’s license holder is considered to have satisfied the educational and examination requirements for licensure as property managers.
Real Estate Salesperson License
In some states an individual may work under an employer’s real estate broker’s license with only a real estate salesperson license. To acquire a real estate salesperson license an individual must complete educational courses, pass an exam, have a trustworthy character as demonstrated by lack of criminal felony charges, and pay a fee. Some states may require further qualifications to become licensed as a real estate salesperson.
Most broker’s licenses require one to obtain property management experience as a real estate salesperson before obtaining a broker’s license.
Leasing Agent License
Some state real estate boards created a leasing agent license specific to residential leasing activities. Leasing agents must be sponsored and employed by a licensed broker. To earn a leasing agent license one must complete a minimal amount of approved coursework relating to leasing residential property and pass the leasing agent exam.
The above license descriptions pertain to individuals who engage in property management and residential leasing activities for business. Property management companies and corporations that engage in real estate leasing activities may be required to have a separate license in the firm’s name. A property manager can further their credibility in the industry by acquiring management certification within the industry.
Special Note: This information is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or relied upon without first confirming its contents with your state real estate commission.
I have bookmarked your blog for future updates. Keep sharing your great ideas.
Happy to read this very useful information. Nice and detailed explanation.
Appreciate your sharing and tweeted 🙂
i cant believe a Broker’s license is required to manage properties (leasing portion). That seems over the top. Do you know what Wisconsin requirements are and does WI accept a property managers license.
It doesn’t look like Wisconsin offers property management licenses. You must work with a licensed broker as a salesperson or represtative of the brokerage firm to engage in leasing activities in WI. https://www.allpropertymanagement.com/propertylaw/property-management-law-in-wisconsin.html
Does Ohio require a property management license
Yes, it sounds like they do according to All Property Management – https://www.allpropertymanagement.com/propertylaw/property-management-law-in-ohio.html
Does Florida require a property management License?
I believe they do.
I am in PA, so if I am not leasing, listing, or collecting rent for the owner, just doing the showings and scheduling repairs, etc. I don’t need a real estate license ?
It doesn’t look like you need a license, since you are not handling lease agreements or money. https://www.allpropertymanagement.com/propertylaw/property-management-law-in-pennsylvania.html. I would double check with your local housing authority to make sure though, as each city and county can have specific landlord-tenant laws.
I live in California and own and operate a house cleaning business with one business partner. We both realize that managing the vacation rental homes that we clean could be a service we offer to the owners. We would not handle renting or any rental money as the owners take care of that. Would we need a real estate license or brokers license for this type of management service?
If you are representing multiple owners, then yes, I think it would be smart to have a property management license.
No you don’t. You do not need a broker’s license to manage short-term rentals.
I live in Ohio and have been managing my boyfriends property for the past year because he doesn’t want to deal with the crappy tenant (whom happens to be my cousin). I’m applying to jobs not property management related but I’m wondering what I put down for my job title. It it illegal for me to be collecting rent/writing leases, etc for the owner? He is not a licensed broker so he is exempt because he is the owner under Ohio law. So ithis is kind of a grey area for me, I cannot find any information on the web for a situation like mine. What is your take on it? Should I put Property manager on resume or Assistant Property Manager, or something totally different?
Thanks for your help!!!
I doubt the jobs you are applying for would check to ensure that you have property management license. You are probably fine. Some state’s allow private landlords to have a representative that does business for them, but aren’t property managers. I am unclear whether it would be technically illegal for you to call yourself a property manager on a resume or job application. I would think as long as you don’t claim to have a license, or sell your services as a property manager, you will probably be fine. Maybe say your job was “property management” and avoid giving yourself the title of Property Manager. Good luck!
HOW CAN I GO ABOUT GETTING THE LIC, AS A BROKER IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, I’VE SEEN SEVERAL OF SWINDLING WEBSITE. SO HOW WOULD I KNOW IF ITS LEGITIMATE?
I would check your local real estate board and with any local property management associations for recommendations for reputable places to earn your license.
I’m planning on buying house’s and renting out.but the city I’m in say i need a license to rent. So I’m trying to figure out where to obtained my license. Mobile Al.
Hi Oliver, I would inquire with the city to assess exactly what you need. They will likely have recommendations for where and how to acquire the appropriate licensing.
Thanks Mrs. Brentnie
A lot of people hire property management companies without having enough information about them. This can cause trouble later. So not only property managers but the people who hire them should know about these different types of licenses.
So true! Thanks for your feedback.
I am an owner of multiple properties that I rent out and manage. I have never gotten my license but have always wondered if I need one. I have wanted to get one so I can manage other properties .My question is do i need one to legally manage my own property ? I live in California.
Hi Denelda, Currently, there is no state statute requiring a private landlord to be licensed. However, check with your local city/county as they may have rules and regulations regarding licensing to follow.
In the future, if you decide to take on managing properties for other owners, California Business and Professional Code § 10131 indicates anyone performing certain duties on behalf of another is required to be licensed with a few exceptions (Bus. & Prof. C. § 10131.01(a) and (b)).
Does the state of Tennessee require a licence for property manager or leasing agent of apartment rentals?
Hi Jackie, there isn’t a quick yes or no answer. A property management company in TN must be licensed but not necessarily a property manager or agent working under a broker or owner. It comes down to the tasks and duties they perform. I recommend checking out these frequently asked questions from the Tennessee Real Estate Commission first. Then, if you have further licensing questions, give them a quick call as I’m certain they would be happy to help.
Do you need to have a real estate license to do property management in the state of California?
Hi Becky, you bring up an important question as the term ‘property management’ can mean different things such as working as an onsite manager, being a private landlord, or even owning a property management company. Depending on the tasks performed and/or the ownership of the properties determines if a license is necessary.
If a private landlord, corporation, or partnership owns the properties, a license likely isn’t necessary (check with local city and county regulations). However, a property management company managing on the behalf of other owners is required to be licensed; but their employees might be exempt depending on their tasks.
I recommend a review of the following California regulations and reach out to the city and county to ask if they have any additional requirements. Calif. Business and Professions Code §10131
I live in a HOA Condominium unit, in PA and I am a owner of the unit. They hired a outside property management company, in the year 2013 I found out he hand no active RM license, for two years, years 2014-2016 and yet was managing, the HOA, I verified thru the Dept. of State, the Citation, and he pleaded guilty to the charge, and paid the fine, Civil Penalty. The company is still managing. I believe this is public record, should I inform the council about this.
Hi Matthew, I am not an expert on PA regulations nor could I offer any legal advice but would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. I would hope that since so much time has passed he might have become licensed or operating under a licensed brokerage, or somehow falls under an exception clause in your state. Perhaps you would be able to look up if one of those changes in status now applies and decide what you feel is the best course of action with the information you uncover.
Where in NY can I get my property management license?
Hi Heidi, I found the NY State Division of Licensing Services. That site offers a real estate professionals frequently asked questions page. If that doesn’t answer your question, I would suggest giving them a call. Wishing you all the best!
I live in South Florida and take care of several homes for wealthy people. I have acquired an LLC for my business but not sure of which type of business license I need. I repair what I can, if not I hire contractors. I never deal with any type of rent payments. Any help would be great. Thanks
Congratulations Paul on your new business. Although you might not be dealing with receiving the rent payments, if you are engaging in the process of renting a home (lease agreements, showings, vacancy listings, tenant screening, etc.) you might be required to be licensed. The type of licensing may vary depending on if homes are condos, time-shares, short-term and vacation rentals (lodging), etc.
I was able to find the Florida Department of Business and Regulations website that might prove helpful. They can be reached with specific questions by calling: 850.487.1395
Lastly, I would recommend checking what types of repairs you are able to complete without holding a contractor’s license. And of course, be sure to verify the contractors you hire are properly licensed as well.
All the best!
Does Indiana require you to have brokers license to be a property manager
I can’t offer legal advice but I was able to find the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency webpage that shows examples of unlicensed practices and licensure law and administrative rules. But more importantly, I’d recommend reaching out to them directly for assistance here: Contact PLA