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Top 10 Questions to Ask a Property Management Company

It can be difficult to know who to trust when it comes to choosing a property management company. Use these ten questions to weed out firms that aren’t qualified, lack experience, or don’t have your best interests at heart.

Is your company dedicated exclusively to property management?

This complex industry demands specific training and expertise, so avoid a jack-of-all-trades office that attempts to juggle real estate sales, property management, and other ventures.

How long have you been managing residential rentals, and how many?

You don’t want to be anyone’s guinea pig—demand experience. It can take decades for a property manager to encounter all the issues that can arise, anticipate regulatory issues and avoid costly mistakes. Look for experience managing many homes—not just “real estate” experience.

What training/certifications have you received?

While experience is critical, so is the quality of that experience. Quality property management training and certification ensures that your property manager is following the best practices in the industry. An in-house, licensed attorney should be available to help ensure compliance and protect you from costly legal mistakes.

Whom do I contact with questions and how quickly will you respond?

While every property manager may make similar promises, ask how they plan to keep their commitments. What processes, staff, and resources do they have in place? How quickly can you expect a return call or email when you have a question?

How do I know what is happening with my rental property?

Regular communication is a given. This is really about technology—the backbone of successful property management. Expect regular email updates and a 24/7 online owner portal to view rents, maintenance, and all other property activities from wherever you are.

How long, on average, does it take you to fill a vacancy?

While the owner’s decisions can significantly impact vacancies (insisting on too-high rent, avoiding needed maintenance and upkeep), the answer can still tell you a lot about how aggressively they work to avoid costly vacancy days. Answers can range from 30-60 days.

What additional fees will I be charged in addition to the management fee?

Expect upfront pricing, and remember: you really do get what you pay for in property management. Discount managers can be costly when you uncover the hidden fees, and cut-rate management can come with a very high price tag. Protect your asset with a professional.

How do you ensure my home is properly maintained?

Regular maintenance is a normal part of rental property management. A responsible manager ensures that quality repairs are made in a timely fashion to make sure your landlord obligations are met and the tenants receives good customer service. Ask the prospective property manager how often they do inspections. Ask how their approval and authorization process works for repair expenses. Ask if you are required to use their vendors or not. And ask how they handle home warranties.

How do you avoid collection problems and evictions?

Clear policies, quick action, and a proven screening process, make all the difference. Ask about their rent collection system, and the local codes and laws that apply to evictions.

How do you ensure compliance and legal protection for your clients?

When you hire a property manager, you are trusting someone with your valuable asset, rents, and tenant deposits. Ask for references of owners they have served for over a year, look for a firm that has appropriate legal counsel and check for any history of violations with the Virginia Division of Real Estate.

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