Good property managers often go above and beyond to help you manage your investment property, and you pay them well to do so! But what signs do you need to watch for? As a property owner, do you even know what you should be expecting from your property manager?
If you just shrugged your shoulders and really aren't confident in knowing what you should be seeing, here’s an overview of things your property manager should be doing on the regular. And if you’re not getting this from them? It’s time to start asking questions.
The obvious one – rent. It’s why you bought an investment property, right? Your Property manager should collect the rent and pass it on to you, and also act as an expert in your property’s suburb. They need to help you with setting the rental price and be suggesting increases when it’s appropriate. If the tenant is late on rent, they are responsible for following up the moment they fall behind, notifying you (the owner) creating a payment plan if needed and following through with formal breach and termination notices if necessary.
Do you know what rental rates are for properties in your area? Do some research and see if your property stacks up. You could be missing out on money. Something that’s seen all too often is rents placed a little lower than the current market rent for the area to make finding tenants easier. That’s a hard no from us. Know your stuff and make sure you’re getting the maximum rental return.
Everyone knows a property managers job includes performing routine inspections, but they need to be doing them regularly AND passing on a thorough report to you, once done. If you aren't getting these reports, are they even doing it? Or if you do receive the report and its a little light on the info, question them on it, find out if they really took the time to check over your property well, a quick walk-through while chatting to the tenant isn't gonna cut it. A great property manager should be looking out for repairs and be ready to tell to what needs to be repaired — no being soft on you, you need to know.
Are they sending you a monthly report with full details on budget, income, expenses and deductions? And more importantly are they sending it on time without you having to chase them for it. Reports are a great way to get an insight into your property managers true dedication, if the report is constantly late or lacking in details then you need to ask yourself what else are they dropping the ball on when it comes to your property. Remember that properties are bound by strict notice periods, so if they aren't sending you a report on time, what else are they cutting corners on?
Fair to say each owner likes varying degrees of communication, some more than others. You need to set out the expectations from the get go and they need to make you feel comfortable with the line of communication you’ve set – no one likes to be left wondering what’s going on. This is an important part of their role, they need to not only communicate with you – the owner – but also your tenants, how they treat you is a great indicator of how they will conduct themselves with others. If you aren't happy with how often (or not) you're chatting with your property manager, it’s time to wave them goodbye – stat!
They go AWOL
On the same page as communication, if you have to ‘people manage’ your property manager and are constantly seeking them out, we’re sorry to tell you but they aren't doing their job. They should be touching base often. The whole point of having a property manager is to let them worry about the small things so you don't have to, that's why you’re paying them. They need to be open with you about what’s happening and not disappear for long periods of time without touching base.
Part of your property managers job is also to make sure that you’re compliant. This is why you pay them after all, they need to be an expert in all things real estate. While it’s a great idea for you to be across what's ok and what's not, it's up to them to educate you and point out issues or even chat about potential problems. There are endless rules and regulations, your property manager must be across them all on your behalf – all of the time.
For example your property manager should be well aware of;
- How many rent increases you can do
- When they can be done
- How much notice you need to provide
- How much to increase by
All off the top of their head so the increases they're recommending are fair and given to the tenant enough time in advance.
Your property needs to be looked after, there are other people living there after all. Maintenance issues are a key cause of tenant unhappiness and no one wants an unhappy tenant. Because unhappy tenants? They leave.
Your property managers role includes organising maintenance in a timely manner, not only for your tenants sake but yours too. Small issues can quickly become large ones if left unattended or unnoticed. A simple example? A property manager who does a quick lap of your house during an inspection can easily miss silicone in the shower that needs replacing, that can lead to water damage in the walls because it wasn't picked up or dealt with quickly enough, a much more expensive problem to fix than if it was spotted earlier.
Our advice? Ask your property manager questions, like how often are they’re completing inspections and make a habit of going over their inspection reports. If you’re not too far from your property, it's also worth doing the occasional drive-by to verify your property managers inspection, if they've said the exterior is in great shape but you can clearly see overgrown weeds and general untidiness then start asking questions.
Taking a ‘she’ll be right’ approach won't cut it. Don't let others cut corners when it comes to your property. Remember you can't enter your property unannounced without prior notice, but you’re free to drive past whenever it suits you.
They don’t care enough to find you great tenants
Have you heard phrases from your property manager like ‘there are always problems in this area, it’s the best you’ll get’ or ‘you can't expect any decent tenants here’? If you have, that's a major warning sign you’re not getting the best value.
It’s common for property managers to make general excuses for their bad choices – just because a tenant doesn't earn a bucket-load, doesn't make them a bad tenant. Using this as an excuse is not on, it could just mean they're too lazy to find the right tenant for you and have taken the ‘close enough is good enough’ attitude.
A great property manager will take the time to find tenants with rental histories and a solid employment history, simple as that. They just need to do some research to find the right fit for your property. If they're not doing that and the excuses are coming thick and fast, look elsewhere.
They don't follow through
No one can expect a property manager to spend their life watching over your property like a hawk, that's just unrealistic, but you can absolutely expect them to follow through on promises they've made and timelines they've set.
We get it, things happen, life happens, rent can be late sometimes. But if put in place a plan to secure late rent, and you follow up after they've said it will be done and you’re hearing ‘oh yep im still working on that’, that's just not good enough.
We all know you’re reasonable people – right?! – but there are some things from a property manager that just can't be tolerated, not following through on plans is one of them. False promises also tie in with this point, it's a great idea to know what your property manager is and isn't entitled to do so you’re more aware if they do try to pull the wool over your eyes.
What if my property manager is ticking too many of these boxes?
Go elsewhere. It’s as simple as that. If they aren't doing their job properly then why do they deserve to be managing your property? Check out this post for the next steps on how to fire your property manager and start making more money from your investment, because that’s the aim of the game right?!
If you’re ready to evaluate if your property manager is pulling their weight, print out this checklist and get watching. It’s easy for you to forget about things that have happened in the past once they’re resolved, so mark down any issues you do have with your manager and see if patterns are picked up. Our checklist is an easy way to do that – stick it on your fridge so you don't forget!