Property Management

December 6, 2021

Congratuations, now that you own your first rental property, you are probably wondering about property management! Should you manage the property yourself or hire it out?

Property Management is a lot of work to do it right and from my perspective, you have 3 options (the majority of people will only consider 2 options unless they have a lot of properties): 1) Manage it yourself 2) Hire a Property Management company 3) Hire an employee. For the purpose of this guide, I'm only going to discuss options #1 and #2 since I don't have any experience with option #3. Whatever option you pick, you still need to do some form of management. It comes down to WHO you want to manage - do you want to manage the tenants directly or would you rather manage the property manager who then manages your tenants? If you think that you can hire a property manager to do all the work, and you can just sit back and relax while receive passive income every month, then I'm sorry to say that you are wrong. Problems will arise so it's better to be prepared ahead of time.

Let's examine the 2 options and their pros and cons.

Managing the Rental Yourself


This can be great if you like to interact directly with the tenants and stay up to date on landlord tenant laws. Unless you are a handy person and prepared to do all the repairs yourself, I highly recommend selecting a team of contractors/handymen ahead of time so you or the tenants can call for service requests. There are plenty of resources online if you decide to go this route: screening tools, lease forms, payment collection systems. I'm not going to recommend any particular service but I can assure you that there are a lot to choose from so just pick what you like to use. You can also look for local Facebook investor groups or real estate investment (REIA) meetings to connect with fellow investors and ask for advice.


Pros

  • You have more control over everything including the screening process and property maintenance.

  • You get to interact directly with tenants and ensure that they are treated fairly and their requests are being addressed in a timely fashion

  • You will likely receive the rental payments faster. Tenants can pay you directly rather than going through the property management payment system and then the property manager send you the rent after the payment has been cleared in their system.


Cons

  • Can be very time consuming - When I first started managing a rental, I was shocked at how many people contacted me and how few of them actually qualified! Out of 20-30 phone calls and emails, I often only get 1 or 2 qualified tenants. Of course, this is dependent on the property and the demographics in your area but I've heard similar stories from other landlords. I highly recommend prescreening them as much as you can before doing showings. You can also allow tenants to do self tours with a smart lock (some professional property management companies are moving towards this) if you feel comfortable with it.

  • Tenants can be high maintenance so it's best to set their expectations ahead of time and give them clear guidelines of what things you expect them to take care of and what things they can call you about.

  • Need to stay up to date on the latest landlord tenant laws so spend the time to read up on all the new legislative bills.

  • Know how to deal with difficult situations and be prepared to give notices when they violate the terms of the lease. Be nice but firm.



Hiring a Property Management company


If there exists a property manager that does everything perfectly and as efficiently as possible, then I would definitely hire a property manager. They usually charge 7-10% of the monthly rent and that is well worth it for the amount of work they do. However, in realty, I have yet to find a perfect property manager so make sure you have realistic expectations. Oftentimes, you will feel that you can get things done a lot quicker than the property manager can which is probably true because most property managers manage over 100 rentals and they can't spend too much time on each. I don't blame them though, because I have come to realize that 7-10% comission is a very small fee and there is no way they can earn a proper living if they dedicated a lot of time to each property that they manage. It's also a very tough job - I know that I would not want to be in their shoes so I actually have a lot of respect for what they do - dealing with tenant issues and complaints day in and day out is not pleasant. So, if you decide to hire a property manager, I recommend you interview a few and see who you like the most. Make sure you set your expectations with them ahead of time. Ask them questions such as what their screening criteria are, how often they do inspections, their experience with evictions, how long do turnovers take etc. If you want things done in a certain way, then make sure to tell them. For example, I want my properties to be advertised as soon as the tenants have given their notice, not when the tenants have already left and it's ready for showings. I would communicate that with my property manager. Try to treat your property manager as part of your team and show that you value his/her advice. Be sure to thank them once in a while to show your appreciation - a simple thanks can go a long way!


Pros

  • Should be less time consuming especially if you have multiple properties managed by the same property manager

  • Don't need to find your own contractors - the property manager will likely already have plenty of resources

  • You only need to interact with the property manager so you can steer clear of dealing directly with tenants when problems come up

  • Property manager should stay up to date on landlord tenant laws


Cons

  • You don't quite have as much control over your property so you need to trust that your property manager stays on top of things

  • Turnovers are likely less efficient - property managers usually take longer to advertise and screen tenants just because of how busy they are but you can try to minimize this by establishing a good relationship

  • Likely takes a few days longer for you to receive your payments. For example, if the tenant pays on time on the 1st, you might not be able to see the money in your bank account until the 12th but hopefully Blockchain technology can speed this up in the near future so this will become a non-issue.



Final Thoughts


If you can't decide, then just pick one option and try it out. You can always switch later. You can try to do it yourself at first and if it becomes too overwhelming then you can always hire a property manager to take over. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, it's how we learn.