Ask any Property Manager that question and you’ll likely get a “What don’t we do” as a response, and in most cases they would be right.
Whilst many might think that a Property Manager’s role is simply monitoring and collecting rent, which let’s be honest, technology helps us a lot in that sense, there’s a lot that we do consistently behind the scenes that Owner’s do not always know about.
The bulk of my work, managing properties for my clients, is carried out behind the scenes, working on the finer details to ensure that their investment interests are always being looked after. Therefore, a lot of the workload is not always obvious or even seen.
If you’re weighing up if you need a Property Manager, consider what you would have to do yourself and if you would be prepared and have the time to do it effectively.
This post will also give investors a good idea of what the value is in having a Property Manager and hopefully dispel the theory that a Property Manager only springs into action when something goes wrong.
So, here’s a behind the scenes snapshot, of what I do for my clients.
All things Rent & Accounting Related
Collecting rent is not as simple as just that, there is accounting and a lot of compliance requirements that come with it not to mention the regulations regarding record keeping.
A lot of conversations had with tenants are surrounding rent, particularly due dates, status and the changing of payment frequency.
Reconciling missed or part-payments, following up on rent or tenant invoices, and then there is the allocation of these funds to the relevant clients. Also managing payments for client’s outgoings such as rates and bills, monitoring due dates for these payments to avoid interest and/or penalty fees.
When it comes to rent, we can’t forget regular reviews where all factors are taken into consideration to determine if and when a rent increase can be justified. Communication and compliance requirements come into play when reviewing and increasing any rents.
As an agent, a Trust Account must be in place to hold all monies collected on behalf of clients. In order to hold a Trust Account, legislation requires an agency to undertake on-going and regular self and outsourced auditing in order to be able to operate.
The technology I employ allows me to access records, documents, ledgers and transaction history from everywhere and anywhere.
This information and documentation, such as statements and ledgers need to be easily accessible and easy for all to understand.
The one that scares most Property Managers is ensuring that their properties are compliant with the many rules and regulations across the Acts that we’re subject to, namely the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) as well as the Property Stock and Station Business Agents Act (PSBA).
The RTA, for example, is reviewed every 5 years and amendments are made at this time. At times amendments may be made within the 5-year period and a Property Manager must know where all parties’ responsibilities lie within the Residential Tenancy Agreement at all times.
An agency and/or agent must ensure the Agreements used are compliant as well as our internal Practices, Policies, and Procedures.
Moreover, we need to ensure our landlords and tenants are complying with their responsibilities within the terms of the Residential Tenancy Agreement, communication and consistent follow up is needed here whilst educating landlords and tenants of their obligations.
There is also periodic compliance required for Smoke Alarms, Water Efficiency and Swimming Pools. These three areas alone need to be certified regularly by outsourced professionals.
It is imperative as a Property Manager to have a system in place which allows for regular monitoring, auditing, and record-keeping to ensure 100% compliance of the properties under management. Some aspects of maintaining records can be the keeping of notes, email records, compliance certification, etc.
In order to renew a Real Estate License, a Property Manager must undergo regular Educational training each year. However due to the nature of the role we are always learning whether it be via conferences or webinars, in order to keep up to date with changes within the industry.
Marketing & Securing Tenants
We always have to be at the ready when a tenant gives the notice to vacate to get started on our search for new tenants, and for me, this takes priority whether it’s a new listing or re-letting a currently managed property.
Preparing and editing our marketing to get a property online and Inspections arranged cannot be delayed regardless of the rental market as time is of the essence.
Pricing, Photography and Property Description all need to be on point.
Rental Properties need to be on the major portals in order to gain the most exposure to prospective tenants.
I aim to ensure that my listings are given a high priority with prominent positioning on the major portals that gather the highest levels of traffic.
From experience, landlords looking to self-manage, find that advertising is not that easy or inexpensive on the major portals. These landlords can also find it difficult and overwhelming to manage rental enquiries, let alone the process of securing the right tenant.
On a Recent Listing, I was receiving an average of 25 emails per day for over a week plus text messages and phone calls. Of those enquiries the end result is securing only one tenant for the property. The workload during this period can be demanding.
Beyond the initial Marketing, there are the showings, application processing, and tenant selection and therefore declining unsuccessful tenants. Then comes processes for collecting bonds, rent and preparing the Lease, Condition Report along with supporting documents and fact sheets, ensuring that all of the compliance measures have been covered for each and every property leased. Without missing any steps, they are all crucial in their own way.
At the Property
Regular inspections of Rental Properties are a must.
These are an opportunity to identify issues, whether they are concerns raised by tenants, potential issues that pose a risk and to forecast improvements.
Doing so is with the view of being proactive when it comes to ensuring that the property is well maintained and identifying maintenance before or as it arises. These inspections ensure that landlords are aware of what needs to be done and what will need to be done at the property, in order for it to maintain its value as an investment.
All of this needs to be communicated to the landlord within a report that is concise, detailed yet not too overwhelming. These reports document how a property is being maintained by the tenant and at the same time allows a landlord to plan ahead for any future upgrades needed.
Outside of these set inspections, Property visits can be for anything from allowing access for tradespeople, checking completed repairs, valuers, owner visits or anything that needs prompt attention.
I find it valuable to sign leases and lease renewals at the property itself as this provides another opportunity for me to view the property as well as discuss any concerns with tenants then and there.
Being mobile, available and willing to get up and go is a must. A Property Manager is the owner’s eyes and ears and that can’t be undervalued when considering the value of the investment.
Working with Tenants
Property Managers communicate with tenants a lot more than their clients might realise. They are essentially working for the client as their middle person. Most of the time, landlords won’t know or need to know what these conversations are about if it doesn’t require their involvement or input.
It could be a query that is easily resolved, a problem that can be solved directly but it’s a regular occurrence in any case throughout a tenancy.
My aim here is to be the client’s problem solver.
I believe in creating a courteous and open relationship with tenants so that I am always in the know about what is happening at a Property.
Therefore, being approachable and available is a must.
This is all of benefit to the owner and they can choose to be in the “know” as much as they like or opt to authorise me to use my judgment as they’re assured that I am keeping their best interests in mind.
It also goes to say that Property Managers have to have all of the difficult conversations. The rent increase and the I’m sorry the property is being listed for sale conversations etc.
Repairs, Maintenance & Improvements
Repairs and Maintenance are a significant part of the role. Although most are straight forward such as repairing and replacing fixtures and fittings within Rental Properties, occasionally they can be quite involved and ongoing.
For example, today it was an oven not working, a request for a Pest Treatment (standard as it warms up) but the day is not over yet.
I of course deal with Urgent Repair calls, but The Management Agency has the best tradespeople on board that has been tried and tested and will go above and beyond for me.
“A common misconception is that our tradespeople will charge our clients exorbitant rates, I find this is often the reverse. The trades I use are always mindful that Property Managers are the source of a lot of their work and for this, they wouldn’t jeopardize a long term and good working relationship by burning a Property Managers client.”
Property Managers coordinate the tradespeople, property access and expenditure whilst communicating options and approvals with clients. At the same time providing tenants with updates as well as dealing with any grievances that the tenants may have.
A Property Manager can oversee complete overhauls of a Property and essentially become a Project Manager, to budget and time constraints.
More on that in another blog to follow.
If your property is within a Strata Complex, there are certain repairs that will be covered by Strata and your Property Manager should pass these onto your Strata Manager and liaise directly with them. It is a Property Manager job to know whose responsibility certain repairs fall under.
Phew! This one could go on so I’m going to list a few odd jobs I’ve done in the last month;
- Changed light globes (quicker and easier than claiming from a tenant’s bond)
- Changed a Smoke Alarm Battery, beeping like crazy when I was inspecting a property
- Multiple locksmiths trips to cut extra keys, particularly letterbox keys that always go missing
- Ordered and installed spring pins for Plantation shutters, $5.00 on eBay instead of a min $100 call out fee. Thanks, YouTube tutorials.
- Helped a tenant move Lounges out of a property after the owner ran out of time, arranged council to collect them
- Left over floorboards in a Property, delivered to the owner’s workplace
- Surface cleaning & vacuuming, yeah no one should really have to do this when they’re suited up for work but time constraints sometimes mean these things need to be done
- Disposing of left-over unwanted items, vacating tenants can leave a lot of bits and pieces around after a move
I’m not advertising that I’ll do any of these odd things as part of my role, but when you’re tight on time or owner’s funds and something needs to be done then sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself, then and there. Hence why the boot of my car is packed with spares parts and supplies.
So, it leaves me to wonder, how many Investors want to oversee, manage and generally deal with all of this and the other one-offs I haven’t touched on?
“Property Managers are essentially problem solvers and we use our knowledge and our many past experiences to come up with solutions for our owners and tenants.”
You might think, as some people have said, “How do you do that job, I could never.” Yes, I’ve made it sound tough because that’s the truth, but it is also a rewarding career and like most, it has it’s good and bad. For the most part, we’re out and about, free to move around and meet people, and when it’s fine-tuned and working efficiently it is manageable.
Similarly, to how we don’t service our own cars, some things are better off outsourced. Just saying!
If you’re weighing up if you need a Property Manager, consider what you would have to do yourself and if you would be prepared and have the time to do it effectively whilst meeting all of the legal requirements.
This turned out to be a very long post but I hope you’ve found this to be insightful and informative.
Thanks for reading!