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Being a landlord can be a full-time job. That’s especially true if you lease multiple properties. Luckily for the harried property owner, rental property management companies are here to help.
Not only will a good property management service keep your investment property in tip-top shape and handle the odd maintenance request, but it will also do everything from tenant placement to rent collection.
No matter which property type you own — be it a single-family home, a multifamily apartment building, or a commercial property — a management service can help.
Keep reading to learn more about how these companies work and how to find a property management solution right for you.
or, skip straight to the section on the best rental property management companies
What Do Property Management Companies Do?
As the name suggests, a full-service property management company is a third-party organization that landlords hire to oversee property maintenance and operations. Rental property management companies work with both commercial and residential properties.
In addition to the peace of mind that comes with knowing potential tenants end up in a new space that’s sparkling clean and move-in ready, here are some of the tasks that property management companies handle.
You don’t want just anyone moving into your investment property. Ideally, you should screen each prospective tenant to make sure that they’re who they say they are and that they have a history of paying their bills on time.
That means you’ll need to complete both a background and a credit check. Property management companies can handle these for you. In fact, some services will prescreen prospective tenants before showing them the rental property.
Nobody’s going to want to move into a space sight-unseen. But coordinating times when prospective tenants can view a rental property can be tricky.
Many property management companies will handle property showings for you.
When a tenant moves into a space, they have to sign a leasing agreement. The leasing agreement outlines how much the tenant has to pay in monthly rental payments, what they’re responsible for, and specific rules governing what they’re allowed to do in the space.
A property management company can handle all of the paperwork for leasing tenants. It will also take care of lease renewals and finding new tenants when terms expire.
Managing tenants can be one of the hardest parts of owning a property in any rental market. Tenants may complain, ask for things, and demand upgrades or repairs.
In some cases, tenants can be problematic by being noisy or unruly or a nuisance to neighbors. And sometimes, tenants will refuse to pay, causing legal complications.
Landlords are encouraged to use rental property companies to act as a buffer between themselves and tenants. They may hire local vendors to conduct property inspections, make repairs, communicate with customers when they have issues, and deal with local authorities when tenants stop paying or require eviction.
Properties can require a significant amount of maintenance. For example, if you own a standalone unit, you may have to take care of the lawn, garden areas, swimming pools, roofing issues, windows, and more. Interior maintenance can also require a significant amount of work.
This is one of the best reasons to use a property management company. The property management company should handle all aspects of property maintenance — including vendor relations, scheduling, and billing.
Nothing is more frustrating than hounding tenants about late rent payments. This can be one of the most annoying parts of owning a rental property.
Property management companies handle rent collection, sparing you from having to get involved and ensuring your rental income stream stays intact. They should also take care of bill payments and financial reporting. And if you need to evict a tenant, a good rental management service will take care of that too.
These days, many rental management companies have their own secure mobile payment apps. These allow tenants to pay through a single portal for enhanced ease and visibility.
Of course, it may be that the bookkeeping aspects of being a landlord are all you need help with. In that case, several rental property management software solutions can help you collect rent payments and manage tenant accounts.
Do I Need a Property Management Company?
There are many reasons why it pays to work with a property management company. So let’s briefly examine some of the more persuasive ones.
Managing a property can be a full-time job. It can mean endless trips to the local hardware store, spending hours on the phone trying to find late-night repair services, dealing with angry or unpleasant tenants, and constantly chasing people for money, among many other examples.
Often, people purchase rental properties and then wind up flipping them because they can’t deal with all the work that comes with it. This is especially true for homeowners who also have to take care of their own property and people dealing with multiple units or houses.
By hiring a rental management company, landlords don’t have to deal with the unpleasant aspects of property ownership and tenant relations. It becomes purely a financial matter.
Managing tenants can present legal complications. Certain states have very strict laws governing tenant rights. In some cases, it can be extremely difficult or even impossible to evict someone who doesn’t pay or is difficult.
For landlords, this can be a frustrating experience. However, working with a rental management company can spare property owners from getting tangled in messy legal matters or making mistakes that can negatively impact them in court.
Property management companies often specialize in dealing with demanding clients, as they have systems and protocols in place for navigating difficult situations.
Another benefit of working with a management provider is that it can lead to more consistent profits. Even though you’ll have to pay a fee to the property manager each month, you’ll still receive a steady cash flow. In fact, the property manager can maximize your cash flow.
The provider will keep the place clean, in good shape, and full of renters. What’s more, a great property manager will know the local market and charge top dollar for tenants.
The Best Rental Property Management Companies
Here is our list of the best property management companies.
Best value: Greystar
Greystar is a leading global manager for residential property rentals, with a presence in more than 2,500 communities across 197 global markets. The firm offers everything from property operations to financial services and even information technology. So if you’re in the market for comprehensive property management services, Greystar is worth checking out.
Best rental property management software: Buildium
If you’re looking for an app-based solution, look no further than Buildium. This rental property management software’s features can help you market your vacant property, communicate with tenants, and collect rent payments. But it will also connect you with a local service provider who can handle hands-on tasks like fulfilling maintenance requests.
Best for commercial: Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield was established as a small New York business in 1917. Today, the company has a global presence — as well as a stellar reputation for commercial property management. Cushman & Wakefield offers international occupier services, integrated facilities management, and a portfolio services center. The company also offers investor services — like agency leasing, asset services, and capital markets.
Best multi-family property manager: Lincoln
Investors looking for help managing multi-family properties should look into the Lincoln Property Co., one of the largest property management companies in the United States. This company is known for its excellent customer service and paying close attention to detail.
Best for vacation rental management: Vacasa
Vacasa is a leading vacation rental management provider with a national presence. The company is known for offering 24/7 customer service, premium cleaning, and marketing services to keep properties full with tenants.
Tips for Finding a Property Manager
The managers mentioned above are just a few examples of leading companies. There are countless organizations to consider, including numerous local companies in your area. There’s also rental property management software that can tackle many tasks for you.
Here are a few things to consider when sourcing a property manager.
Look deep into each company and see what other people are saying about various property management companies.
It’s also a good idea to look past national reviews and investigate local branches to ensure that you’re getting top-quality care.
The last thing you want to do is join forces with a firm that isn’t going to hold up its end of the bargain.
Remember, all it takes is one negative online review to tarnish your property’s reputation. If your place is dirty or in need of maintenance, that could be enough to ward off future renters — negatively impacting your investment for years to come.
Examine your contract
Before you sign a contract with a property management company, go over the service agreement with a fine-tooth comb so there are no unanswered questions about what you’re signing up for.
Failure to do this could result in a situation where you think something is going to be taken care of, but then when push comes to shove, as the property owner, you’re responsible for the costs.
For example, some property owners overlook a vendor’s ability to handle snow removal or provide leasing services, which can be costly to pay for year after year.
Be careful about management fees
The only major downside to partnering with a property management company is that its fee will cut into your revenue. As such, it’s vital to understand how its fees work.
For the best results, make sure you have a clear understanding of every service that the property manager charges for. That way, you won’t wind up paying more than you should.
As you move forward in the process, ask for a complete service breakdown. By doing so, you will have something in writing that indicates how much the company will charge ahead of time. It’s an easy way to avoid sticker shock.
You may save on some costs by using rental property management software to handle select tasks.
Check out the online portal
Not all real estate management companies offer high-quality user portals. However, this is an important feature that you don’t want to overlook.
It’s also wise to find a company that offers a mobile app for on-the-go support. This can be convenient for checking in on billing and payments, maintenance requests, and other management needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about property management companies.
How can I find a good property management company?
One of the best ways to find a property management company is by word of mouth. Ask around if you know other people who invest in properties, and try to stick with a company that has a solid reputation.
You’ll want to find a company that can handle maintenance issues, tenant relations, financial tasks, and everything in between.
It’s also a good call to check out local providers. For example, if you are in the Kentucky area, look for a place with deep local connections with affordable vendors instead of a company headquartered in New York City. This can help keep costs low.
What is rental property management software?
Rental property management software can range from a simple bookkeeping app to a full-service app-based management solution. These services use technology to help landlords connect with tenants and manage their books.
Some software products, like Buildium, also connect landlords with affiliated vendors who can handle your maintenance requests, hold property viewings, etc. Before signing up for a rental property management software service, be sure that you know what features you will and won’t be receiving.
The Bottom Line
Real estate can be a risky investment class. A lot of things have to go right for you to make money. Market conditions have to remain favorable, costs have to stay under control, and tenants have to behave and pay rent. However, when all of these factors fall in line, you most likely stand to earn big.
Hiring a property manager or using rental property management software is one of the best ways to facilitate and reduce the risk of your real estate investments. These firms know how to handle property care, and they can work with a variety of property types — leaving you with more time on your hands.
While rental property managers can be expensive, they’re usually worth every penny. So we encourage real estate investors to use one, especially when juggling multiple properties.
As you begin searching for a property manager, make sure to shop around and interview several candidates before hiring one or signing an exclusive contract. After all, this company is going to play a significant part in the success of your investment. Rushing into an agreement with a management company is generally not a good idea — and it could be one you regret tremendously.
Take your time and thoroughly vet your potential partners. Be patient, and trust your instincts. You’ll wind up with a rock-solid property management company that can grow with you for years to come. Good luck!