The property manager is the ultimate factor of whether you make it or break it in the field of buy and hold real estate. It’s a pretty simple process and once the deal is bought and we have projected the expenses for said properties, the last thing is to ensure that you have a reliable and dependable property manager to maintain and keep an eye on them.
However, the next time you go to organize a property manager, try to keep some specific tasks in mind when you are hiring someone, doing it yourself, or outsourcing it to a management company. As a property manager’s sole priority is to keep tenants happy (the ones that pay their rent on time), read on for the following ways to keep them happy and paying.
If you don’t have to spend a whole heap on constant maintenance for the property, a vacant unit is the worst thing to have in your portfolio. No tenants means no money, and no money means no profit; you do the math. There are times when tenants will need to move out for a number of different reasons and when this happens, property managers need to fill the vacancy as fast as possible. 8% of your annual revenue is lost for every day you don’t have someone renting. Property managers need to keep in mind that to deal with filling up these vacancies, three methods are their responsibility. They are marketing and sales, screening, and on-boarding.
Marketing & Sales
My company employs a separate agency for this reason and they work based on commission. A tenant Relations Manager doubles up as our property manager (which is essentially the same thing) and the first move is to organize some marketing. Using a program called VFlyer, we dump a whole heap of template files in CraigsList and other similar sites, like Trulia. The results are then measured based on how many applications, showings, and calls we get for the listing. This is a crucial step as it allows us to figure out if we are charging too much or too little. If no one calls, it is obviously too high and if too many call, we know we can probably do better. Adjustments can be made all the time until the correct documents are signed so feel free to charge what the property is worth.
The Tenant Relations Manager will then begin what is called the screening process and run a bunch of credit, eviction, and criminal checks on all our applicants and potential tenants. Along with a number of different informational data, such as car insurance or other responsibilities that could affect rent, the Tenant Relations Manager inputs all the data into a specific scoring sheet to determine their suitability. After an applicant accepts our proposals, they are then expected to pay a month’s rent to take the listing down.
An important yet frequently overlooked factor into the management process, on-boarding simply translates to getting the tenant to sign the lease package after we create it. This is the first and best time to lay down the law and rules for living in the property. Enter everything into the contract itself and run it through with the tenant before they sign. Everything from rent to guests, repairs, and any other such issues should be completed at this point and handled immediately.
Another process that is vitally important and that the property manager should be responsible for is that of collections. When tenants don’t pay their rent on time, someone needs to remind them to complete the payment as soon as possible to avoid further issues. Sometimes, visits are necessary from the manager themselves for tenants to understand the severity, and in the end, court procedures may need to be filed and carried out. It is an unfortunate position but it is one you simply can’t pass on if you are to be successful in real estate.
3. Work Order Processing
Now that the property manager has been sorted and you have tenants paying rent, you will need to make sure that some maintenance issues are carried out periodically. Every time though, the property manager needs to document everything that was carried out, asked for, and repaired. When it comes to my company, we use a software program called Rent Manager that allows us to track, create, and process work orders for any technicians or subcontractors involved in any work needed. Every week, we detail and check the outstanding orders that need to be completed, how many new ones have arrived, and how many were completed. Afterwards, our Tenant Relations Manager calls the tenant back and asks if they are satisfied or if there are any other issues that need sorting. It’s a small task at the end, but it is one that makes such a big difference in the eyes of our tenants. They know that we actually care.
4. Lease Renewal
After a lease has expired and run its course, the general option is to extend the leases month by month (in the US anyway). Many lazy property managers and owners miss out on a lot of money by allowing the leases to stay the same or not worrying about updating and signing a new one. The problem with this is that your tenants can move out whenever they feel like at a moment’s notice. Everything tends to increase over time and to counter that in costs, you will have to increase and renegotiate your rent prices too. Failure to do so means a slow and painful death, real estate wise. Your property manager needs to make sure that they have a system in place for checking the items mentioned previously. Every month, a report is carried out for any looming lease endings and renewal letters. Sometimes you can even offer yearly or five year if you want to avoid any vacancies in the future!
5. Turnovers and Moving Out
A simple enough term to understand, moving out is exactly what it sounds like but a management system for this process still needs to be implemented. We carry out a checklist of what the tenant needs to be billed for or taken out of their bond. Wear and tear are taken into account and our maintenance team works together with our property manager to get the repairs handled in less than a few days. When everything is sorted, we then get the TRM to process any checks or refunds required for tenants.
Marketing the units that are vacant are only half the battle when it comes to dealing with them. You need to remember that the other half is focusing on getting your units, lots, and other properties ready for rent. Use the same paint, cabinets, and flooring for all your properties so that you can save costs on repairs and maintenance. Have a plan in place and ready for action as soon as you have any vacancies in your portfolio. Ensuring that your tenants are happy will mean that they pay their rent on time and by holding them accountable for the house, you will have fewer issues to deal with!