Property Management, Tenant Selection, Real Estate News & Tips

Responsibilities of a Property Manager

By on September 28, 2016 in Education with 22 Comments

Property Manager JobIf 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

Rent Collection:

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.

Policy Enforcement:

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.

Open Communication:

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.)

Business Logistics:

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.

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About the Author

About the Author: Brentnie is a contributor for Rentec Direct. She occasionally stops by to deliver practical industry tips, providing guidance for tenants and landlords alike. .


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There Are 22 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Alan says:

    My property manager stated they gave me, the owner a 30 day notice of my tenants leaving as required by lease. I never saw the E mail notice & could not find it. My 1st notice the tenants moved out was the first day they turned in the keys. What are my options with the property manager.

    • Brentnie D says:

      Yikes, sorry to hear that Alan. The good news is that email makes tracking communication pretty straight forward. Your property manager should be able to re-send the original email with the time and date that proves he did send the notice on the date he is saying (30 days prior to move-out). If he cannot produce a legitimate copy of the original email, you should contact an attorney to discuss your options for breach of contract regarding move-out notification. Your PM could be liable for vacancy costs if he did not provide proper notice, depending on your state’s laws. If he can prove that he did indeed send the email 30 days prior, there might be nothing you could do. I would suggest adding an addendum to your PM agreement that requires confirmation of receipt for all lease notifications, to avoid this moving forward.

  2. maria says:

    Having issues with the new tenants that moved in next door. Property manager said it wasn’t her job to deal with the issues. That if things got worse to contact the local police. Owner will not return calls. What are my options?

    • Brentnie D says:

      As frustrating as it can feel, unfortunately, unless it’s written into your lease, your property manager is under no obligation to assist with issues between neighbors. Since the owner has a management team to assist you, it would be unlikely that he or she would respond to your contact as well. In this instance your best option is to remain as cordial as possible, and document any difficulties you may have with your neighbors. This way if you ever have significant issues and need to involve the police, you have a record of past occurrences. Definately, call the police if you feel in danger or if you feel that something illegal is occurring.

  3. Hello Brentnie,

    My new property manager JUST informed me (March 13, 2017) on the phone that my lease is up, BUT I am on a month-to-month lease under the previous management company. She just informed me that my rent will go up $225.00 on April 1st, if I continue to go month. I did not sign anything with the previous Mgmt Company. The previous Mgmt person just type it in the computer.

    My questions are:
    Doesn’t the new management company have to give me (Notify Me) as least 30 days to decide what I want to do…continue with a month to month or sign a year lease?

    • Brentnie D says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Unfortunately, Missouri is one of the few states where no notice is required to raise rent during a month-to-month lease. (You can find more info about the laws here) Since you were not on a term-lease, the new management company is able to increase the rent without giving a 30 day notice. To avoid this scenario in the future, before signing a new lease agreement, you can request to add an addendum to requiring a 30 day notice before a rent increase goes into effect.

  4. Marianne says:

    Hi Brentnie,

    Should landlords share leases with the owners of the property? What is the standard practice in the industry?

  5. Brentnie D says:

    Hi Marianne,

    Usually, a property manager will share a copy of the lease agreement with the owner. However, it is not advised to share signed copies of the lease agreement, since this is a contract between the manager and tenants, not the owner and tenants. If you have any questions, contact your local rental housing association to see to check for specific advisements and rules in your area.

  6. chuck says:

    my property manager is in the same city as my property. I am 200.00 miles away. is it the managements responsibility to periodically check the property and inform me of any areas that need attention, before the problem gets worse? like exterior finish plumbing,..etc.?

    • Yes, I would absolutely request regular inspections be added to your management agreement. This is especially important if you do not live in the same city as your property.

      Here’s a look at the inspections you should delegate to your property manager if you cannot preform them:

      If routine inspections are not already in your management agreement, you might need to add them. If you property manager wants to charge extra, I would ask around to other local property managers to see if it is standard practice to up-charge for this service ( I assume it would be included).

  7. Thanks for helping me understand more about property managers and what their responsibilities are. I actually had no idea that they could be responsible for hosting open houses. Sounds like they really have to be well versed in real estate. I’m a bit interested to learn more about the training and experience that they need to receive to become a qualified PM.

  8. Marchik says:

    I am an owner of a rental property in CA. My property manager has a dual agency and is the agent of the landlord and tenant. I asked my property manager to send me a copy of tenants driver’s licence and their credit score. He replied “no. we have a dual agency and we have to uphold our fiduciary obligations with landlords and tenants. Is that legal?


    • Hi Marchik,

      In short, I would say, yes that is legal, although I am not a lawyer and cannot offer actual legal advice. Unless your management agreement states otherwise, a property manager will not share applicant credit score information with owners, nor provide copies of a tenant’s drivers licence.

      We actually just had another question like this on another article. Maybe the comments here will be helpful for you too.

      While you should talk to a lawyer for actual legal advice, I will tell you what I understand of situations like yours. I believe that your property manager does not need to give you a copy of the tenant’s drivers licence and nor share the tenant’s credit score, in order to protect the tenant’s personal information and follow Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act laws. Your property manager can, and should, give you a signed lease agreement with the tenant’s name and contact information on it.

      Depending on what your management agreement states, your property manager should be agreeing to only approve and lease to tenants that meet your agreed upon minimum screening criteria, like credit score must be XXX and applicant must have zero evictions. As long as your property manager follows these rules, there should be no reason for you to need the tenant’s personal information.

      Some property managers will provide a summary for approved rental applicant stating the tenant meets all agreed upon tenant screening criteria. While not all management companies do this, it is standard practice and a good way for a management company to adhere to the Fair Housing Act.

      If you are concerned that your property manager isn’t actually approving tenants that meet the credit score guidelines, a potential remedy could be to get your property manager to sign a document that says the tenant they placed meets all the agreed upon tenant screening qualifications and if it turns out the manager did not verify the tenant’s background or the tenant does not meet these qualifications, the property manager is liable for any damages. I would have a lawyer review this document, and any contract regarding your rental, before it gets signed.

  9. Nicole says:

    So I am trying to get out of a contract with a property management company as the property manager has tried showing my house to someone after I had a lease in place, has harrased me and been valgur with me and just so very unprofessional, he has no cooling off period in his contracts, and has it so even if I give him notice i have to pay 1000.00 and the last months rent to him. What can I legally do to get out of this??????

    • oh no, that sounds like a terrible situation. Did he enter the property without giving notice? Failure to give notice before entering the property is a violation of your renter rights. If he tried to show the property to another tenant before you moved in or lease started, I don’t think that is illegal.

      Harassment is illegal though. You should take detailed notes of all interactions you have with him, what he said, what you said. If you can demonstrate that you tried to act reasonably but he acted inappropriately, a judge is more likely to side with you.

      $1,000 sounds like an extreme lease breaking fee, but is not totally unheard of depending on how much the monthly rent is. Is the lease breaking information included in the lease you signed. Most landlords have to be reasonable about allow their renters to break the lease and try and find a new tenant to take of the property.

      If you feel like you are in danger please contact the police. I also suggest contacting your local housing authority who will provide you with free advice about what legal options you have to remedy this situation.

  10. Hello,
    So my property management company found tenants and had them sign a year lease, well they moved out only after 2 months. Now we are not getting any rent as the unit
    is empty. Is the Property management company responsible for the rent for the life
    of the lease?

    • Brentnie D says:

      Hi Shereen,

      Your property management agreement should have language that specifies what will occur in this kind of circumstance, so be sure to review how it addresses the issue.

      That said, usually, in this circumstance, the tenants themselves would be responsible for the remaining rent. In the interim, your property managers should be working hard to find a new qualified tenant to move into the unit.

  11. Henry says:

    As a PM, can they go on the property without notifying the tenant as long as they don’t enter the house?

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