How to Build a Relationship with Your Property Manager

Hiring a property manager is a great way for landlords to regain control of their busy schedule.  Like any employee, hired service or consultant, property managers will go the extra mile for clients they have a good working relationship with.

In this article, we’ll go to explain how to hire the right candidate, how to communicate effectively and a few concrete steps you can take to build a solid relationship with you property manager.

Hire the Right Property Manager for Your Property

When you hire a property manager, you’re entrusting your assets to someone else.

While you may get monthly reports and the occasional phone call, day-to-day decisions are left to a stranger.

That’s why it’s so important you build a solid relationship with your manager.  But before you can do that, you have to make sure you find a property manager that’s the right fit for you.

Here are a few criteria that’ll help you narrow down property managers:

  • The distance between the management office and your rentals: this will affect how quickly they respond to tenant issues.  This could have impact on your turnover rate.
  • The number of ‘doors’ managed vs the size of the management company: you don’t want to hire a manager or company that’s stretched too thin.
  • The size and type of property the manager prefers handling: apartment complexes, single family homes, multi family structures.  Try and find a manager that has experience with properties similar to what you rent out.
  • The technology (if any) used by the property manager: many property managers are using online tenant management systems to handle issues like maintenance and complaints.  This expedites the processes and helps keep tenants happy.

Questions You Can Ask

Once you find the right property management company or property manager, book a meeting.

Take the opportunity to chit chat with the property manager that may be assigned to your properties.  If it doesn’t ‘click’ during the first meeting, it may be a sign that you should look elsewhere. Most importantly, ask questions relating to the manager’s experience, education, track record, tenant screening process and maintenance and repair procedures..  You should also ask for references you can call.

Once you’ve found the right property manager for you and your properties, it’s time to slowly build that relationship.

Setup Clear Communication Channels

The first step is to setup clear communication lines between the two of you.  Email and cell phone are the basics.

Expand the means through which you can communicate via new technologies.  Applications like WhatsApp and Telegram are free and secure communication tools that also work on wifi.  That makes it a lot easier for your property manager to reach you in case of an emergency when you go on vacation or business trips.  They also consume less data than email if you’re paying for roaming.

Once you’ve exchanged communication methods, determine which is to be used for what situation and at what frequency.  This will avoid frustrations where the landlord feels bothered or, conversely, not kept updated often enough.

Have a Plan for Weekends and Vacations

Setup clear rules as to when your manager can contact you on weekends and for what reasons.  The last thing you want is to handle the day-to-day of your rental on weekends. After all, the point of hiring a manager is to be hands off isn’t it?

The same applies for vacation.  Remember to let your property manager know when you’re leaving for prolonged vacation and how you can be reached.  However, make it clear that during this time period, you’re only to be contacted for emergencies.

Define What Constitutes an Emergency

One of the biggest frustrations owners feel after hiring a property manager is not being kept informed of what’s going with their asset.  But if you want to build a relationship of trust with your property manager, you’ll need to let him or her make most of the decisions.

That said, you’ll still want to clearly define what constitutes an emergency which requires your input.  Here are a few examples:

  • Repairs that cost more than $1,000
  • Decisions that affect the short-term rentability of the unity
  • Tenants missing more than two month’s rent in a row
  • A tenant’s departure or arrival
  • If the tenant screening process is too stringent for the type of rental

Each landlord has a different definition of the word ‘emergency’.  If you take the time to define what that word means, your property manager will know where his boundary starts and ends.  This will reduce the amount of calls you get. This is particularly important if you plan on not being disturbed during a beach vacation.

Ask for Updates at Defined Intervals

Aside from setting the bar on what constitutes an emergency, you’ll also want to setup a defined schedule for getting updates.

But if your property manager rents out your unit to long term and reliable tenants, be flexible and ask for a yearly update or whenever a major expense is due.  This will free up the property manager’s time and make him or her feel valued.

Get to Know Your Property Manager a Personal Level

It’s no secret that people tend to work harder when they feel a personal connection with their boss.  It’s no different when it comes to a landlord-property manager relationship

Take a moment to ask your property manager questions to find out if you both have personal points in common.  Then when your property manager contacts you, use the opportunity to connect on a personal level first, then deal with the business at hand.

Topics you’re likely to have points in common are: kids and family, sports teams and hobbies.  You can also chit chat about the general real estate market, politics or world events.

Give Credit When It’s Deserved

Even though you pay monthly fees for the manager’s services, don’t forget that managing properties is hard work.  The experience of managing rentals can be stressful not just for landlords, but property managers as well.

If your property manager handles a difficult situation and updates you once it’s resolved, make it a point to thank him or her.

In a way, the property manager is similar to an employee in a company.  Giving credit when it’s deserved is common practice in the workplace. It’s also been shown to solidify rapport between employer and employee.  So why not use that same concept when managing your rental?

Wrapping This Up

There’s many small things you can do build up your relationship with your property manager.  It all starts by finding the right candidate for the job. When that’s done, communicating efficiently is critical.  Finally, don’t forget that the manager is also a human, so take the time to nurture the personal relationship as well.

 

Glenn Carter

Glenn is a real estate writer and investor. Getting his start in single-family home and condo investing, Glenn has since moved on to multi-family investing in the Ottawa area. As a side hustle to his real estate investing, Glenn loves writing about his experience as a landlord overseeing his rental properties and has been featured on VentureBeat, BiggerPockets, Get Paid For Your Pad, and Breakthrough Real Estate Podcast.