Full service property management runs the gamut. Essentially, they take care of everything regarding the property, and should only come to you (as the landlord) with status updates and major issues.
To be more specific, here are the services to expect:
Full Service Property Management- Tenant Mgt.
Your property manager should take care of everything regarding the tenants.
Assuming you don’t already have a tenant, their first task is to find a few potentials. They can do this by marketing the property on rental sites like Zillow or Homes.com. They can also put ads on Craigslist or a local newspaper- although the newspaper probably isn’t necessary.
Once tenants start applying, the property manager should screen them. Background checks, income verification, walking them through the property- everything. This process is kind of like dating- the PM is seeing if the potential tenant is a good fit, while the tenant is doing the same.
If both parties are happy, the property manager will draft up the rental agreement. This will include the property address, monthly rent, pet policies, security deposit, etc. It’s the most important document in the whole process, as it outlines what each party is responsible for.
As tenants have issues and eventually leave, the property manager will deal with those situations as well. Their job is to take the monkey off the landlord’s back so you can focus on other things!
Full Service Property Management – Maintenance
Keeping the property safe and well-maintained is another responsibility. Hopefully the home isn’t a lemon, with a new maintenance issue happening every other week.
But when things do break, it’s up to the PM to get it worked out. From a small leak to a tree falling on the house and destroying half the roof, the property manager should be on it.
…although they should probably notify the landlord about the tree.
Yard maintenance falls in this category as well. Even if the tenant takes care of it, the PM should verify the work is being done. Otherwise the landlord may start getting complains from the local HOA for an unkempt yard. If a contractor is used, the PM should make should take care of the payments and verify the work is done right.
Full Service Property Management- Legal
A great property manager probably doesn’t have a law degree, but should at least know the basics of local real estate law. This allows them to give some low-level advice on what can and can’t be done with the property.
For example, let’s say the landlord wants to build an addition onto the home. What does the local code say? Can it be done without getting approval from the city? If approval is required, is a professional tradesman, like an architect or engineer, necessary as well?
This applies to other things too. A good example is a tenant’s rights, which vary slightly from state to state.
Pets are a tricky part of the tenant/landlord/property manager relationship. Some landlords swear that having a pet friendly property is the way to go. Others say that pets just aren’t worth the hassle. Even if the pets don’t damage the home, the home may smell like the pet until the carpets are cleaned and walls are painted.
Either way, your full service property management team should uphold what the rental agreement says. If it says that pets are fine but only up to 25 pounds, they should verify (preferably by actually seeing the animal) to make sure it it’s fine. If no pets are allowed, the property manager should make sure no pets are on the property, and take swift action if they find the contract is breached.
This, just like inspecting the home any other way, requires some tact. Maybe it’s by having a maintenance person scout the area and report back. If the animal is a dog, it could just be watching out for the tenants walking the dog, or when they release it outside to use the restroom.
At the End of the Day – Ask
It never hurts to have a few questions to ask a property manager before hiring them. They’ll be glad to see that you’re doing your due diligence, as that means you’re a landlord that actually cares about the property and business.