Most new landlords only envisioned their property being managed by themselves. (They also only envisioned small appliance breaks and on-time monthly rents in perpetuity, but that’s a reality check for another day). In fact, for most first-time landlords, they have never heard of a property manager.
Let’s start there.
What Does a Property Manager Do?
We are property managers in the DC area, and as such we act as the landlord’s proxy. For your property, property management companies like us, handle the marketing to and prospecting of new renters, scheduling regular maintenance and ad hoc repairs, rent collections and accounts payable, move-out procedures, and the eviction process, if necessary.
Primarily, property managers save you time; more importantly, they deal directly with tenants and governing agencies. Most first-time landlords have a reasonable estimation of the time required to manage the maintenance of their own rental. Likely, from your own experience as a homeowner, you know repairs can take much longer than planned and budgets can increase unexpectedly.
However, what most homeowners-turned-landlords don’t have experience with is tenants and government housing departments.
Things to Consider
There more rentals you have, the sooner being a landlord becomes a full-time job, and the sooner your rentals are no longer working for you, but you are working for your rentals.
This is a big issue, actually. We recommend regular inspections of the interior of your rental, at least, once every 6 months. For obvious reasons, this lets you get ahead of issues, before they become a much more expensive problem later on. In addition to these inspections, you will need to show the rental should your tenant not renew their lease. You also would want to return to be present at the start and/or finish of major repairs. This can be done, of course — perhaps you have family close by who can stand-in for you, if you can’t get to town. You have to be realistic about what you’re willing to do.
This is a simple one. You should have, at least, 3 go-to maintenance contacts, in the following areas:
- Roofing & Gutters
- Lawn care
- General Repairs
- Major Construction & Remodel
- General and Major Plumbing
- General and Major Electrical
- Appliance Repair (we highly recommend buying additional warranties)
If you have full-time employment outside your rental responsibilities, this alone, can be reason enough to hire a property management company. You will get calls and emails during the day, and these calls will require immediate attention. Put another way, can you handle another child?
Oh, goodness, when we started our company, we laughed at how everything seemed to break the Friday before a holiday. Luckily for our clients, this is never their issue and we have the systems in place to handle this situation, so the tenants really don’t skip a beat. But, are you willing to cancel multiple long weekend plans last-minute?
Are You Always Right?
It is really important you have the right attitude about being a landlord. If you are a person who is unwilling to relinquish control and you have—be honest—a tendency to think your word should be the final word, we know you need a property manager to serve as a buffer between you and the local housing department or tenants. It serves everyone’s interest if it is the property manager delivering your message. All agreements and contracts concerning your rental are between you and the other party, so you do have the final say.
However, should your tenant need to be served a Notice, should a neighbor complain, or should the new tenant create a laundry list of needed repairs as part of their move-in property assessment (all of which you consider minor), a property manager can serve your best interest in all situations—and be impartial.
In the above example, it is actually a good thing when a tenant is high-maintenance. It means they will take care of your rental as if it was their own home, meaning it will be in good condition when it comes back to you. If you don’t have the right attitude when you get the laundry list of work, you may be getting off on the wrong foot with a dream tenant.
Can you afford the property management fees? Typically, property management companies charge 7-10% of each monthly rent as fees for their services. Additionally, they charge a one-time Commission fee, usually equal to the first month’s rent upon occupancy. Some companies, however, will charge additional fees for some additional services. These may be for showing the property or for completing regulatory or licensing paperwork.
For this very reason, we decided to start our own all-in-one residential property management company. We are committed to being the only turn-key property management solution for your DC rental. Call us today for a free consultation!