Whether you own a single-occupancy rental home or a building with multiple units, there are plenty of good reasons to enlist the help of a property manager. First of all, if you don't live near the property in question, having a property manager is crucial because that person will be available to check up on that space and ensure that things are running smoothly with it. Even if you do live near your rental property, if you don't have the time to deal with maintenance or tenant issues, hiring a property manager is a good way to outsource that responsibility.
But if your property manager isn't doing his or her job, then you won't end up getting value for the fee you're paying. Worse yet, an ineffective property manager could create other financial problems for you, like rent you struggle to recoup or repair issues with the living space that person is supposed to be overseeing. Here are a few signs that your property manager isn't up to par -- and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
1. Your property manager doesn't communicate
When you hire a property manager, you put what's possibly your single largest investment in his or her hands. And if he or she goes dark on you regularly, it's a sure sign that you've chosen the wrong person. Your property manager needs to communicate with you constantly so you're ensured that your rental property is in good shape and there are no brewing issues you need to know about. If he or she fails to reply to your emails or return your calls in a timely fashion and doesn't provide regular updates, then it's time to find someone new.
2. Your tenants all move out after a year
If you have a rental property with multiple units, it may be the case that one or two tenants opt to move out once their leases expire because they're eager to find a better deal or life circumstances drive them to live elsewhere. But if you're seeing a mass exodus, it could be because your tenants spent the better part of the year dissatisfied with the service they received from your property manager. If that's the case, then it may be time to consider giving that manager the ax.
3. You're not getting quality tenants
It's not unheard of for a tenant to come across as reliable during a screening only to then fall behind on rent or be the source of other problems, like noise complaints. But if you own a rental with multiple units and find that there are issues with the bulk of your tenants, it could be that your property manager didn't do an adequate job of vetting them. If that's the case, you should find yourself someone who can do better so you don't risk missed rent payments, property damage, or other such negative consequences.
4. You're constantly faced with vacancies
Vacancies are a landlord's worst nightmare because the longer your rental units go unoccupied, the less income you take in. Part of your property manager's job is to advertise openings and fill vacancies quickly. If your property manager isn't doing that effectively, it means he or she is costing you money.
5. Your property is in disarray
If you visit your property and find that it physically doesn't look the way it should, that's a telltale sign that your property manager isn't on top of things. Some examples: your lawn is overgrown, your walkways aren't cleared of snow following a storm, or the elevator that went out of commission last month still isn't fixed.
Should you fire your property manager immediately?
While all of the above red flags indicate that it could be time to fire your property manager, an in-depth conversation could be enough to get him or her back on track. Review your pain points and discuss the ways you feel he or she isn't doing a good enough job. If your property manager accepts your criticism and pledges to do better, you can agree to a trial period where you'll look out for improvement. But if that doesn't happen, then it's time to cut ties with your property manager and find one who's much more adept at the role at hand.