If you own an investment property and are considering hiring a property manager to oversee your rental property or if you are a current landlord who is considering entering a career in property management, you might be wondering about the specific tasks a property manager is responsible for completing–outside of simply signing leases and collecting rent for an owner.
Residential property management falls under the branch of real estate related to renting or leasing rental housing. Property managers are in charge of ensuring market readiness, rent collection, policy enforcement, and maintaining positive owner-renter relationships, all while running a business that complies with state and federal laws.
Ensuring Market Readiness:
Property managers ensure that a unit is ready to enter the rental market by suggesting repairs or cosmetic improvements that will offer the owner the highest returns for the area. They will also ensure a property is in rent ready condition after a tenancy by inspecting the property, having it cleaned, and ensuring it is restored to the same condition it was prior to the lease. Should the owner decide to make any improvements at this time, the property manager can oversee any maintenance that will need to be done.
At the end of a tenancy, property managers are responsible for collecting keys and leased property, enforcing move out dates–and charging a tenant accordingly if the move out date is not met–and refunding the past tenant’s security deposit.
Once the tenant turnover tasks are complete, property managers will do the legwork required to find a new tenant. This can include:
- Posting for rent signs
- Updating online rental advertisements
- Hosting open houses
- Communicate with current tenants for qualified referrals
- Collecting both the applications and application fees
- Screening the tenants based on legal screening guidelines
- Showing the unit to prospective tenants
The task most commonly associated with property management is the responsibility of collecting monthly rent. However, a property manager’s influence does not end at simply depositing checks every month. Property managers create policies regarding collecting rent from tenants, these policies include acceptable payment methods, as well as repercussions or charges for late payments.
PMs deal with late payments, unpaid rent and even evictions if needed. Should the market or property improvements bring about the consideration to raise the rent, the property manager will consult with the owner about the pros and cons of raising the rent, and navigate the legal requirements in your area regarding the appropriate way and time-frame to notify tenants of the changes.
At the beginning of a tenancy, a manager will review important lease terms with the new residents and will then be responsible for enforcing and upholding the lease should the tenants violate any lease terms. Prior to having the tenants sign the lease, clear consequences should be listed for rule breaking and lease violations. This can involve anything from written warnings, fine incursions, or even eviction.
Even the best screening techniques can allow for a few bad tenants to slip through, and property managers will be responsible for handling all of the legal responsibilities corresponding evictions. Laws regarding evictions and notices vary from state-to-state and should the proper legal steps not be followed for the area, the lawsuit could be dismissed in court, causing a large waste of resources.
To ensure that the property is cared for according to lease terms throughout a tenancy, the property manager is also responsible for performing regular safety checks and damage inspections. Conducting yearly or seasonal inspections of your property to ensure that owners are altered to any potential issues before they become a safety hazard or cause expensive property damage. Should the inspection bring to light any problem areas, a manager will bring the issue to the owner’s attention and–pending approval–schedule repairs.
Property managers serve as the point of contact whenever a tenant has a complaint or needs to report a maintenance issue. They also serve to notify the tenant of any changes in rent, scheduled maintenance, or other need-to-know information the owner wishes to communicate. In addition to communication with tenants, managers maintain communication with, and pre-screen, vendors to ensure they will have a list of approved vendors ready before they are required.
Likewise, the manager ensures that the lines of communication stay open with the owner. Property owners want to be informed about the performance of their investment, and managers actively communicate information such as vacancy rates, income, and expenses related to the property, maintenance requirements, business policies, and any legal issues related to the property. The ways in which they inform their owners of important information can be via email, phone call or by providing online access to a property performance portal (sometimes referred to as an Owner Portal.)
Caring for the properties and collecting rent isn’t all that a property manager is responsible for; it is imperative to a manager’s success that he or she is fluent in both federal and their state’s rental laws and is prepared to deal with the details of running a business. The Fair Housing Act, [federal law that prohibits discrimination due to race, color, national origin, sex, familial status or disability] and the Fair Credit Reporting Act [which dictates the ways in which a property manager may use a tenant’s credit history for screening purposes] alongside specific state regulations regarding rental properties and tenant rights, are crucial for a manager to understand.
To both provide the best service to clients, and to be successful within the industry, a property manager must run a professional business that follows legal requirements for managing rental properties. This can include acquiring either a real estate broker’s license or a property management license, maintaining relevant records, obtaining insurance, and paying taxes. Beyond personal and business taxes a property manager will file for himself, a manager can assist the property owner with understanding how to properly file taxes for the investment property or even assume responsibility for filing the property’s taxes. Additionally, property managers rely on vendors for a variety of services throughout a tenancy and during turnover, and the IRS requires that property manager’s file 1099-MISC tax documents regarding any unincorporated vendor that has been paid more than $600 in the calendar year; this will include the majority of-of the independent contractors used for property maintenance and repairs.