Purchasing a property and renting it out to tenants can provide a healthy income stream to willing investors for a very long time. But no matter what kind of property you purchase – commercial or residential, single-family or multi-unit – hassles and headaches are inevitable. Lots of patience and hard work go into finding the right tenants, maintaining the property, and acting responsibly as a landlord.

Unless owning and managing rental properties is a full-time job for you, or you want it to be, consider a property management firm to streamline your landlord duties.

The responsibilities that come along with property management include screening the credit histories and backgrounds of applicants, drawing up leases and processing rent payments, maintaining tax and legal records, and dealing with maintenance issues and complaints that crop up. Depending on the size of your property, these tasks alone can constitute more than a full-time job.

Every landlord has to decide whether the tasks required of property management are better suited to a dedicated firm or handled first-hand. The first thing to consider is whether you have the time and expertise to manage your own property. Are you comfortable doing basic handyman tasks (or do you know someone dependable who is)? Do you know a reliable electrician and plumber who offer same-day service? Do you mind being on call 24/7 to handle issues that inevitably arise? Are you comfortable confronting tenants over complaints or late payments? Or would you rather spend the money to free up your time by delegating these and other responsibilities?

Dealing With Tenants
A big part of what any property management firm (or hands-on landlord) does is deal with tenants on a day-to-day basis. Responsibilities include advertising open units, interviewing and screening prospective tenants, drawing up leases, handling move-ins and move-outs, dealing with complaints, collecting rent, handling late payments and, in the worst scenarios, managing evictions. Property management firms should have a familiarity with legal aspects of the landlord/tenant relationship – and that includes understanding the rights of each party and how to proceed legally in the event of a problem.

Paperwork
For some, one of the best aspects of hiring a property management firm is that it handles a good deal of the necessary paperwork. A firm can relieve you of finding and screening tenants, checking credit reports, conducting background checks, drawing up lease agreements, and billing and accounting for monthly rent. Also, if you offer subsidized housing, you know that a fair amount of additional paperwork is required to be maintained.

If you only have one or two rental properties with long-term tenants, dealing with paperwork shouldn’t take more than a few hours each month, nor should it occupy more than one drawer of a filing cabinet. However, if you own an entire building with a high turnover rate, that volume and time commitment can add up quickly. The reduction of paperwork is worth the fees charged.

Repairs and Maintenance
Buildings inherently require maintenance. A newer building with new appliances probably will not require the same attention as that of an older property with older features but plumbing issues, HVAC problems, general building issues and damage can still occur. In addition to the repair and maintenance of buildings and individual units, you need to devote some resources to making sure the land is attractive and well-maintained. That can mean planting and keeping flowerbeds, repairing pathways, mowing lawns, and installing grass sprinkler systems, among other duties.

Some maintenance issues (such as determining whether to repair an old dishwasher or replace it with a new one) are sure to require you to assess the situation and determine how to proceed. But, generally speaking, a property management company will be able to take care of most repairs and maintenance that your property requires.

While hiring a property management firm can eliminate after-hours phone calls and mitigate day-to-day hassles, nothing ever fully relieves you of management responsibilities as long as you own the property. Your decision as to whether to hire a management firm hinges on just how involved you want to be, and how immediately available you want to make yourself to your tenants.

If you’re looking for a firm to take every single worry off your shoulders, you’re going to be disappointed, but if you want assistance lightening the load, a good property management firm provides a range of valuable services.

Centratel is an elite national telephone answering service located in Bend, Oregon. Centratel’s Property Management Answering Service assists hundreds of property managers handle overflow calls, capture leads and forward calls. Whether you’re managing rental homes, renting out apartments, managing an HOA or senior living facility, a property management answering service is an ideal solution.

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