Many investment property owners in the Sarasota - Bradenton - Venice - North Port rental market hold the incorrect perception that property managers simply collect rent and pass it on to owners, adding little else of value. Truthfully, rent collection is but one small service within the overall service-umbrella that a good property manager provides landlords.
Two Types Of Rental Owner Support
A useful way to look at the overall service-umbrella provided by a good property management company is to divide those services into two subsets: tangible and intangible support.
Tangible Landlord Support
Tangible support includes all of the physical activities carried out by the management company on behalf of the landlord during the leasing and management phases. Such tangible activities include:
During Leasing Phase
- Initial make-ready inspection and report.
- Coordinate and verify completion of make-ready tasks (e.g., cleaning, repairs, deliveries, access, etc.).
- Order marketing photographs and video.
- Write and post advertising to attract prospective tenants.
- Field telephone and email inquiries from prospective tenants.
- Coordinate property showings.
- Prepare, deliver, and review prospective tenant applications:
- National criminal database background-check.
- National eviction database background-check.
- Credit report check.
- Income verification (pay-stubs/contact employer, tax returns, statements).
- Prepare acceptance/rejection letter.
- Upon acceptance, enter all tenant(s) information into management software for ongoing tracking and support.
- Prepare lease documentation.
- Schedule/conduct lease signing.
- Collect, deposit, and clear certified security-deposit funds before move-in.
- Schedule move-in.
- Verify all utilities in tenant's name before allowing move-in.
- Conduct a move-in property tour with tenant:
- Identify the main water shut-off valve.
- Identify the circuit breaker box.
- Locate air-conditioner filter and size.
- Explain the safe/correct operation of equipment (garage openers, pool, lighting, refrigerator water filters, etc.).
- Garbage collection days explained.
- HOA/condo associations rules explained, if applicable.
- Procedure for maintenance issues explained.
- Procedures for rent payments explained.
- Room-by-room property walk-thru/condition report — must be signed by the tenant.
- Video walk-thru documenting the move-in condition of the property.
- Tenant signs for all keys, remotes, fobs, etc.
- Collect first month rent.
- Collect rent and monitor account to ensure payment clears.
- Posting late notices (when applicable).
- Making collection calls, emails, texts (when applicable).
- Filing eviction (when applicable).
- Maintaining "live" maintenance call-center:
- Staffed 7-days per week.
- 24-hours per day.
- 365-days per year.
- Dispatch appropriate vendor as needed (plumber, handyman, etc.).
- Follow-up quality control for maintenance work-orders.
- Process maintenance invoices.
- Prepare/send vendor payment checks for the work completed.
- Document and reconcile all owner income and expenses every 30-days.
- Prepare and send the monthly financial statement to the owner's portal.
- Scan and upload all prior month vendor invoices to owner's portal.
- Field questions from the tenant as they come in.
- Coordinate access to property when needed (e.g., mandatory insurance company roof inspection).
- Conduct comprehensive, semi-annual, visual property walk-thru inspection:
- Room-by-room condition checklist report.
- Room-by-room video walk-thru.
- Upload and send inspection report and video to the owner.
- Address issues needing attention discovered at walk-thru and follow-up.
- Provide tenant move-out checklist of required actions before move-out inspection.
- Room-by-room move-out inspection to ensure property cleaned/damage-free.
- Prepare security deposit disposition letter:
- Funds back to the tenant if property left in good condition.
- Withhold funds for damages/extraordinary cleaning, as necessary.
- Close out the tenant in the database.
- Prepare unit for re-renting (as needed):
- Carpet cleaning
- Schedule marketing photos and video.
- Begin marketing and showing the property.
If Eviction Is Required
- Initiate eviction proceeding (rare, but part of the service when needed).
- Prepare eviction file for attorney (rare, but part of the service when needed).
- Meet sheriff officers at property on eviction day (rare, but part of the service when needed).
- Coordinate to meet locksmith for lock-change.
- Supervise eviction (rare, but part of the service when needed).
Intangible Landlord Support
Intangible support includes all of the activities carried out by the management company, on behalf of the landlord, "behind the scenes." Such intangible activities include:
Liability Shield — Smart property managers maximize their value to owners by acting as a "stand-in landlord" with respect to leasing. This means that the tenant is entering into the lease agreement with the property management company as "Landlord," not the owner of the property. This puts an added layer of protection between the owner and the tenant, with the property management company standing between the two in case of a dispute — the property owner has no direct legal connection to the tenant. Having the property manager stand-in for the owner in no way guarantees complete shielding from legal disputes resulting from the tenancy, but it can help to mitigate any risk.
Communications Firewall — The number of crazy calls property managers receive is astounding. The things that tenants call to complain about range from disturbing to hilarious. Some true examples:
- Tenant (T): "My oven is broken, so I need a new oven."
Property Manager (PM): "I'm so sorry to hear that, is it not heating up at all?"
T: "No, it's heating up just fine."
PM: "Oh. Well, what seems to be the problem?"
T: "My Christmas cookies are not browning evenly, and I need a new oven!"
Needless to say — after talking this tenant down from the ledge — we explained why we could not, and would not be buying them a new oven.
- T: "I need you to send someone out. My bathroom has mold in it."
PM: "Where exactly is there mold, and how extensive is it?"
T: "The grout around the top rim of the tub, where it meets the bottom of the tile, is black and moldy."
PM: "Can you text me a picture of it right now and I'll hold the line?"
T: "Just texted it."
PM: (After viewing the photo) "When was the last time you cleaned your bathtub?"
T: "Probably a few months ago."
PM: "Please clean your bathtub and see if that works."
T: "Okay, I'll let you know."
I promise you I have a million such stories! As a property owner, don't underestimate the time and energy that goes into working with tenants, not to mention the 24/7 nature of the job. A good property manager will untether you from your property, both physically, and emotionally. You get the financial rewards of real estate investing without the hassles and work.
A professional property management company handles all aspects of leasing and ongoing property management, which frees up your time, and helps shield you from legal liability. Your role is to check your monthly statements and make sure your direct deposits show up — your property manager handles the day-to-day hassles of property management on your behalf, which frees you to live your life untethered from your investments.
About The Author
John Michailidis, JD, is the broker/owner of Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee, a Sarasota, FL based residential property management company providing both Full-service and Lease-Only services to local area landlords. If you own residential investment real estate anywhere in Manatee or Sarasota counties, do feel free to reach out to our team at 941-216-0005, or through our website.