Asking the Right Questions: The Top Tips for Interviewing Property Managers

April 22, 2019

Are you considering hiring a property manager? It’s a wise choice and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You likely exercised due diligence when acquiring your property and hiring the right property manager requires the same approach. After all, you’re turning over the care of your investment to a company so they need to be as committed to it as you are.

In order to find the best property manager, you need to ensure you conduct a quality interview. Read on to learn the top tips for interviewing property managers.

Assess Their Qualifications

Let’s start with the basics. First and foremost, you need to know what level of experience and education your property manager possesses.

Ask how long they have been managing properties. Look for someone with at least five years experience. That’s enough time for them to accumulate references from previous clients. At this point, they have procedures in place all the things that go into managing a property.

It’s also important to ask what types of property they have experience with. If they have only managed single-family homes, they might not be the best fit to manage our multi-unit apartment building, or vice-versa.

Ask how many properties they are currently managing. You want to make sure they are not too busy to properly care for your property.

It’s imperative that any property manager you hire has adequate education in the field. Find out what type of training they have had. Did they earn a real estate license or property management license? What types of ongoing education classes have they taken?

The benefits of hiring a property manager are plentiful. Take care to find a manager with proper experience and knowledge and who has the desire to continue to learn. You’ll thank yourself later. 

Find Out How They Will Communicate with You

As an investment property owner, you deserve to know what is going on with your property at all times.

To that end, ask any potential property managers how they will communicate with you. The best property management companies will provide you with an online dashboard with current information you can access at any time.

Also, ask for their preferred form of communication and make sure it aligns with your needs as well. So if you prefer talking over the phone, you’ll want a property manager who is comfortable with that.

What is Their Record With Tenants and Vacancies?

The enemy of any landlord is vacant units. So during your PM interview, collect as much data as you can to determine if your manager minimizes vacancy as much as possible.

In order to find the best property manager, ask for the average length of their tenancies. Ideally, the PM has a record of getting tenants to sign long term leases and stay for the entire term. Long term tenants reduce the costs that go into filling vacancies.

You also need to understand their process for screening tenants. What types of background checks do they do? Do they call references?

How many tenants have they evicted in the past year? If the number is high, it may be a sign they are not screening tenants properly.

How long do they take to fill vacancies? A good property management company should only need 30 days to clean a property and fill it with qualified tenants.

How Easy Is It for Tenants?

In most cases, the only time the tenant thinks about the landlord is when they are paying the rent or when something needs fixing. It’s important to understand how will a PM performs in these core areas.

For instance, can tenants pay rent online or through direct deposit? Or must they submit a personal check or cashiers check only?

When something breaks, does the company have an existing network of service providers who can quickly address a problem? Does the company receive a discount for services performed? 

How Well Do They Know Landlord-Tenant Law?

Property managers represent you and your property. You may be liable for any missteps they make so it’s imperative they fully comprehend landlord-tenant law.

Ask any property manager if they can explain Fair Housing laws as well as local and state regulations. Do they understand their responsibilities under landlord-tenant law? Ask them to explain the legal steps that are required to evict a tenant.

Licensed property managers have studied their responsibilities in order to earn their certification and they should have no problem discussing their legal duties while dealing with tenants. 

Understand All Management Fees and the Contract

The largest fee you will pay is your management fee. But there are usually additional fees you are liable for and it’s important to know what they are. During your interview, ask the potential PM what are the most common fees you may face as well as any unexpected fees.

When you receive the management contract, read it thoroughly so you understand completely all the various fees you may incur.

Make sure the agreement includes all the services you want them to provide. You also need to be comfortable with all the owner responsibilities and duties that are outlined in the agreement.

Lastly, what if something changes and you, or the company, wants to prematurely terminate the contract? Read the provisions carefully to ensure you have an acceptable exit plan should you need one. 

The Bottom Line About Interviewing Property Managers

When assessing property managers, do your due diligence to hire someone who will care for your investment as you would. 

You will likely have more specific individual questions for potential property managers than we’ve mentioned here. But the questions and concerns listed above are a good jumping-off point.

We recommend conducting interviews in person so you can get a better idea of how the property manager interacts with people.

Did the PM dress professionally and were they on time? Did they listen to your concerns and address you politely and professionally?

If you are put off by them, imagine how your tenants might feel.

If you’re looking for a first-class property management company, we want to help. Find out about our commercial and residential property management services now.

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