Key Questions to Ask a Property Manager as a Property Owner in Florida - Article Banner

Investing in Florida real estate can be lucrative and rewarding, especially when you partner with a professional property manager who can help you have a great investment experience. Good property managers will ensure that your rental property is well-maintained and consistently occupied by reliable tenants. 

A property manager can take care of all aspects of leasing, managing, and maintaining your rental property, from finding tenants to preventative maintenance and rent collection. 

Remember that not all property managers are created equal. It’s essential to ask the right questions before you hire a management partner. 

We’re exploring some of the most important questions that we are always prepared to answer when potential clients are interviewing us. Try these out, come up with some of your own, and make sure you’re choosing the right management company for your investments. 

Ask About Property Management Experience

One of the first questions you should ask a property manager is about their experience. 

It’s essential to hire someone who has experience in managing rental properties in your area and has established themselves as capable, knowledgeable, and responsive. A property manager who is too new to the business may lack the knowledge and expertise required to rent out your property successfully.

Any good management company will include how long they’ve been in business in their marketing materials and on their website. You likely already know that they have 10 or 20 or even 30 years of experience.  

More important than years of experience, however, is the type of experience the property manager has. If you invest only in single-family homes, you have no need to work with a company that manages high-rise buildings in the middle of the city. 

Think about your own portfolio. Is it mostly vacation properties? Look for a management company that understands short-term rentals. Are you focusing on long-term leases? You’ll want a partner who specializes in tenant retention and excellent resident experiences. 

Leasing. Ask about Marketing, Screening, and Move-Ins

One of the most significant responsibilities of a property manager is to find reliable tenants who will take good care of your property. When you ask a property manager about their marketing strategies and tenant screening process, you can get an idea of how quickly you’ll get a tenant placed, and how much they focus on tenant quality. A good property manager should conduct background and credit checks, verify employment and income, and follow up with references.

Before you even start talking about screening, you want to know about the listing. What will be included in the marketing of your property? How will they decide where to list the home? Find out how quickly you can expect your vacancy period to last and what kind of emphasis they put on preparing the property for the rental market, pricing it accurately, and following metrics to know whether the marketing plan is working or needs to be changed. 

Some of the questions you’ll want to ask around leasing include:

  • How long will it take to rent my home? 
  • What kind of data do you use to settle on a rental price?
  • Will you recommend improvements or upgrades to increase my rental value?
  • What will a listing include? 
  • Where will you advertise my home? 
  • How is the showing process managed? Do you provide the technology for self-showings or is an agent present while a prospective tenant sees the home? 
  • What does your rental application look like?
  • What kind of criteria do you use while screening tenants?

You’ll want to ask about what happens once a tenant is approved. Does the property manager collect a security deposit and conduct a thorough move-in inspection before the tenant takes possession of the home? They should. A smooth move-in process will ensure your tenant begins the rental process pleasantly and with minimal stress.

What Property Management Services Do You Offer?

Property management companies may offer different levels of service, and it’s important to know what services you can expect from the property manager you hire. Some property managers only handle rentals and lease agreements, while others offer full-service property management, including maintenance and repairs.

Ask about whether they handle renovations and repairs. Most management companies will coordinate emergency and routine repairs, but what if you need to completely remodel your property? Can they partner with contractors and put together a timeline and budget? 

Find out, too, if they buy and sell properties. If there’s a broker or a Realtor on staff, you can keep a lot of your investment activities under one roof. There are numerous benefits to this.

Talk about Maintenance and Repairs 

You should expect your property manager to have maintenance policies in place that will protect the condition and value of your property. Ask about the process for tenant maintenance requests and how they select vendors. You’ll want to know:

  • How vendors are chosen and if they’re licensed and insured. 
  • What’s included and documented during move-in and move-out inspections.
  • How tenants are held accountable to caring for the property. 
  • What the procedure is for emergency and routine repairs. 
  • When it’s decided to replace something rather than repair it.
  • How preventative maintenance is handled.
  • How repair requests are documented.

You’ll need to know what your role is in the maintenance processes. Some management companies will want all repairs to be made only with the approval of owners. Others will make their own decisions about needed repairs up to a specific dollar level. 

By prioritizing maintenance, a property manager will not only protect your property, they’ll provide excellent customer service to your residents. This is an important part of property management, and we recommend you spend a lot of time discussing maintenance. 

Expertise in Security Deposits, Evictions, and other Legal Landmines 

There aren’t exhaustive tenant protections in Florida as in other states. But, you still need a management partner who can be counted on to write a strong lease and keep you in compliance when it comes to rental laws and property regulations. Ask your potential property manager about:

  • Security deposits and how they’re collected, held, and returned. Discuss whether any claims had ever been made by former tenants around deposits.
  • Fair housing laws. You need a property manager who understands protected classes, the application of fair housing laws, and how they pertain to your rental property.  
  • Eviction law. You’re looking for a property manager who rarely has to evict because their screening process is so on point and their tenant relationships are strong. But, evictions are sometimes required, and you want to be sure your management company is prepared. 

Your property manager will need to know the difference between a service animal and a pet. They’ll need to know how much interest to pay on a security deposit, when necessary, and what kind of notice is required before they enter a property. Talk about all of this and ask any questions you have about the laws and how they impact your property. 

Taking Technology Seriously

The property management technology that’s available today allows us to do what we do with maximum efficiency. You’ll want to work with a company that invests in technology and uses automation to make things easier and faster. We invest in personal relationships, and those are very important in property management. However, automated maintenance requests, online rent collection, and digital leasing documents can have a positive impact on your property and how it operates. You don’t want to be stuck with a property management company that refuses to modernize. 

A good property manager will have a process in place for everything. Consistently following those processes will ensure your property is managed effectively and efficiently. Ask about rent collection and lease enforcement. How do they manage accounting and financial statements? What kind of communication can you expect? 

You Can Ask about Property Management Fees

Management FeesHopefully, you already have an idea of what the property manager charges. Their website should provide some kind of indication around management fees, leasing fees, renewal fees, and any additional fees you can expect. It’s still essential to ask about fees while you’re talking so that you’re not surprised by unexpected costs later on. 

Hiring a property manager can be an excellent choice for landlords who don’t have the time or desire to handle all aspects of managing their rental property. However, it’s important to do your due diligence when hiring a property manager to ensure that you’re making the right choice. By asking the right questions, you can gain valuable insights into the property manager’s experience, services, and fees and make an informed decision about which property manager to hire.

These are just a few good starter questions to ask a prospective property manager. You’ll also want to talk about the specific needs of your property. Pay attention to how a prospective property manager handles the interview. They should be listening more than talking. If they dive right into a hard sales pitch, think about whether they’re really hearing what you need from them. 

We would love to answer these questions for you, and show you what sets us apart from other management companies. Please contact us at Anchor Down Real Estate and Rentals.