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Thursday, 28 February 2019 18:31

How Hard is it to Manage Rental Properties without a Manager?

Can you manage rental properties yourself? A manager can be a valuable asset who decreases the amount of work you need to bear; they also specialize in handling tenant concerns. Yet it costs money to pay them for their services. Managing a rental property without a manager can be done. You just need to make sure you can answer these questions about how you'll do it.


What needs to be repaired before rental?

Repair anything that needs to be repaired prior to rental. Anything you leave for later will be a bigger headache once people are living there. You'll need to know the repair cost, especially before you buy any new rental properties.

What are you qualified to repair?

You may have to contract out for major repairs. Know what you are qualified to repair, and don't go beyond what you can realistically get done. If you're trying to manage rental properties, but become bogged down in one repair at one property, it will cost you your attention on those other rental properties. Know your limits. If you cannot realistically repair something (or do so safely), bring someone else in to do it.

Is your rental priority money or speed?

Property managers typically lean toward speed when renting out a property. Their job entails handling many properties, so quicker turnover can benefit their bottom line. This means they may not get top dollar out of every property. This approach is useful if you have many properties to rent. However, you may opt to aim higher.

This depends on your financial picture, too. Know the market rate in your area and whether you want to aim for the high end, or you need to get it rented fast and drop the price a little.

Can you screen tenants?

Screening tenants goes hand in hand with the last point. If you don't have time to screen tenants, do not try to manage your own property. Taking bad tenants will lead to a number of problems, ranging from how they treat and maintain the property to whether they actually pay you.

Tenants must be screened, and this may take up more time than any other single duty you have. You cannot base your choices only on money. A tenant who pays $100 more than another family can have red flags in an interview. If you do not screen them, you may not realize they'll cost you thousands in repairs, or that you'll never see any of that money until it's too late. If you have doubts about a tenant, there's a reason for that. To gauge whether you have doubts, you need to have the time to conduct the full screening process.

Can you collect rent on time?

If you're late on collecting rent without a legitimate reason, some of your tenants may begin to treat it as the norm that they don't have to pay on time. If you're late a few times, it also gives them more ground to dispute late charges when they are. Will you be able to collect rent? Will you be able to enforce late fees if the rent isn't paid? Will you be willing and able to enforce an eviction if tenants don't pay the rent? These are all tough jobs a property manager takes on – some of the toughest. Know that you can do them in reality.

Can you care for the property through an eviction?

Ideally, you won't ever have to force an eviction. However, you may need to start the process. This can often lead to move out dates that both you and the tenant agree upon. They aren't forced evictions, but they do sometimes require you to start the eviction process before negotiating something that works for everybody.

However, the more antagonistic the eviction or move-out process is, the more likely it is that some of your property is damaged. You can't be at the property watching like a hawk at all times, nor should you, but you also must ensure that the property is left in a reasonable state through the move-out or eviction process.

Can you check on your properties regularly?

Your leases should allow you to schedule regular check-ins with tenants. This doesn't mean showing up unannounced; it means scheduling a check-in beforehand. This can be very friendly. Don't phrase it as checking to see if they've damaged the property. Tell them you want to check smoke detectors, furnace filters, drainage, and other maintenance issues as a way to help them. While you're there, you'll see if there's any damage, but presenting it this way helps foster a friendly relationship.

You can't go months or years without checking in on one of your properties, though. You'll have no idea if any damage was done. You could be tens of thousands in the hole on one of your properties and not know it if you aren't regularly making the time to check in.

Do you know the right contractors?

Do you know who to call for any eventuality you are unable to handle yourself? You need to have working relationships with contractors who can conduct both emergency and routine repair and maintenance. You can't be handling a roof leak on one of your properties and only then be looking up roof repair companies. Contact these companies ahead of time to tell them your potential needs and gauge whether their services are cost appropriate.

Often, contractors will give someone with many properties a break in order to maintain a productive relationship – but they're much less likely to do that if you've never had any contact before.

Can you handle the accounting?

A property manager is often responsible for assembling a year-end financial report. If you have no property manager, you'll need to do this. This isn't a step an accountant can really take – this is about how you collect and organize the information that you'll be sending to the accountant in the first place. Know that you can do this accurately.

Some rental properties will require less oversight than others. Some tenants will require less oversight than others. You can't bank on everything going well. When you assess whether you can manage rental properties yourself, you need to leave space for emergencies, an unexpected vacancy, an unexpected repair, and who can take your duties if there's a medical or family emergency you have to prioritize instead.

If you know how to handle each of these questions, managing a rental property without a manager may be realistic. If there's any question you can't answer suitably, then there's still some more work and learning to do before you're ready. If it all seems overwhelming, then a property manager is your best bet. Find one who listens to you and can implement your priorities. Contact Asheville Phoenix Properties for experienced property management services in the Asheville area.