Property Management

Residential Property Management Services Explained

Consumers require residential property management services for a variety of reasons. Some buy rental properties and need management of the property. Other consumers will be absent from their homes for an extended period. Even if you leave for a three-week vacation, someone should be looking after your home for you. We will review these issues and others in the following post.

Residential Property Insurance Requirements

Many homeowners just close their doors and leave for their vacation. They are very excited about getting away. Many do not give a seconds thought about looking after their home. Many insurance companies have specific requirements about vacant homes. The requirements depends on the company, the time of year, where you live and your heating system. They may want checks on your home every day. Call your residential insurance company to confirm your requirements to maintain insurance on your home. Even condominium owners need to do this.

Temporary Absence Management

Many residential property management services companies will offer services to home owners in this situation. They can check your home for water leaks, power outages, heating system failures and break-ins. Have them check your home and report back to you after every visit. You will need a report especially if you need to make a claim to your insurance company. They want to know that someone is checking your home.

Extended Absence

If you are going to be away for a long period of time, it is important to arrange for residential property management services. They will check for water leaks, heating system malfunction, complete landscape management, snow removal and even water the plants. Consumers can arrange for all of the services they need. They can leave with confidence that their home is looked after.

Rental Residential Property Management Services

Many consumers purchase rental properties as investments. Some consumers will manage their own properties. Others do not want to deal with tenants or some of the problems that arise. This is where residential property management services can put your mind at ease. Some of the services that are included are:

  • Tenant selection and approval
  • Rent check collection
  • Deposit to bank accounts
  • Property management services
  • Property repairs
  • Regular monthly reporting

Property management covers all of the things that most consumers take for granted about maintaining a home. This area of services may include the following depending on the building type:

  • Cutting the lawn
  • Hedges and shrub maintenance
  • Maintain watering system
  • Routine repairs to appliances
  • Painting and cleaning after tenants leave
  • Management of special projects e.g. window replacement etc.

Summary

Regardless of the residential property management services that are required, there is a property management solution. Make a list of the services that will be needed for your situation. Decide the time frame involved. Call your insurance company to confirm their minimum requirements. Make sure that you will receive appropriate documentation from the residential property management company if you will need it to make an insurance claim.


Stopping Dresser Drawers Falling

dresser drawers fallingA wall strap, an L bracket, screws through the backboard of the dresser all could have prevented this accident. Kids will be kids. They love to climb and they will whenever they get the chance. If the dresser is top heavy either because of the child climbing on extended drawers or the contents, it is going to fall over. No matter how many times you tell them they will climb. Stopping dresser drawers falling is actually quite easy. You just need to take the time to properly secure them. It does not even cost that much either.

Stopping Dresser Drawers Falling

There are several ways to secure the cabinet so that it will not fall over. One way is to securely attach a cord to the wall and to the back of the dresser. Make sure you screw a strong hook into a stud and not just into the drywall. A screw will easily pull out of the drywall. Same goes for the back of the dresser.

Some people like to use L brackets which work really well. The cabinet cannot be moved at all once installed.

Another approach is to use long screws through the backboard of the dresser into the wall. Again make sure the screws are screwed into the studs and not just into the drywall. Most people will use a stud finder to help them locate the studs behind the drywall. Usually they run vertically up the wall.

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Building Manager Training

Property ManagementWhat training does your building manager need? How much past experience has your property manager and does he have experience with the systems that you use? For example, if you’re using a new computer system to keep track of all work activities, and reporting of expenses you may want to train him on these items. There may also be training required on specialist pieces of equipment that are used within the building to provide service to customers, heating of the building etc. All of this should be considered as part of the building manager training program.

In addition a building manager is interfacing with your customers all of the time and represents the owner of the building in all things. Customer relationship management, dealing with conflict etc may also be required as training for the building manager. If you are getting lots of complaints from tenants, you may want to find out what the fundamental issues are and initiate some sort of training to deal with it. The building manager really represents you to your customers and as a property owner, it makes sense to hire the best!

Building Manager Training – What is Needed

Every buildings needs are different. High rise vs. townhouse condo Residential vs. commercial buildings all have different kinds of equipment that are used to maintain the property outside as well as to maintain the indoor common elements of property. Each time you purchase or upgrade equipment further training may be required. This could be as simple as making sure that they’ve read all of the instruction booklets and maintenance booklets and have developed and adhere to a maintenance program.

Local by laws as well as State or provincial laws change from time to time. It could be as simple as making sure that they read all of the notices, or for a particularly complex piece of legislation, there may be a one-day seminar training session that should be held and attended by all property managers.

Accounting software updates occur all of the time. A one hour training session could be needed by your property manager delivered by the accounting group to ensure that all expenses are recorded properly.

Building Manager Training – CRM Systems

CRM systems or customer relationship management systems are also upgraded on a regular basis. Anytime there is a change property managers and anyone who enters information into the CRM system should be trained on these systems. It could be as short as a one hour seminar, or you may need a more in-depth session for more complex updates and changes.

Equipment training is also valuable to ensure that the equipment is handled properly, and a safe manner for the operator as well as individuals that may be in close contact with the equipment.

Contract management training maybe also needed it contracts are updated. Contracts may be updated based on legal changes necessitated by bylaw changes, or updates based on issues that have been identified in previous contracts.

Communication skills on the job are extremely important in dealing with prospective clients, clients and owners. If your property manager could use better communication skills in terms of verbal and written activities there are one-day training seminars available.

There are always Special needs of the job that required training from time to time. You have a choice of either letting the property manager or the person operating equipment etc. experiment or you can train them properly so that they will operate it in a safe manner and avoid accidents that could damage the property, the operator, or individuals in the area where the equipment is being operated.

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Property Manager Online

Many customers can now have access to online reports from their property manager online reports to view their online statements, progress on various projects and overall status of a property or a unit. This is a huge time saving tool and if managed properly can actually improve customer service to tenants while reducing the overall cost of managing the building. But not all property managers are providing online information for their tenants or their owners of the properties that are being managed. Their focus is on property management and avoiding added investment in costs that are not deemed to be beneficial from a return on investment perspective. However the more competitive property managers are considering this latest technology innovation. it is up to you as owners and tenants to place some pressure on these property managers to improve their online services

Property Manager Online – Up To date Reports

Superintendents can also update reports online to provide a status to their owners, as well as to the tenants to show them when various repairs will be made and what projects are ongoing. For large companies this is particularly useful information especially when tenants call to find out about the status of their project. They can logon to the online site and review the latest status about issues they may be concerned about. The same applies to owners and other interested parties that have access to the system. There would be many less phone calls as a result.

This saves everyone a great deal of time. Reports are automatic and people only need to discuss details if there are questions on any updates. This is customer relationship management for property managers and owners, CRM in short for PM. Large apartment buildings with many units and property managers managing many dispersed buildings will find they can save a lot of time by being online and reporting information quickly and easily.

Using Smart Phones Online

Even smart phones are being used to do updates and trigger reports. As long as you have a data connection or Wi-Fi connection, smartphones and tablets can be used to create updates as well as view results online. This is particularly important for providing immediate answers on site or during a phone call based on a report you can pull up on a smart phone.

We are writing this report using a smart phone for this post about online property management. In fact we are using an iPhone, using the dictation Siri feature to dictate the text of this post. It is an awesome feature and could be used by superintendents as well as owners to update reports and results of repairs or projects.  There is no need to type, just dictate your status update!

This is the way of the future for this industry and others. If you are not already using online reports, with access by tablets and smartphones it’s time to get on the bandwagon. Significant savings can be achieved as well as significant improvements in communication between owners property managers and tenants. Although there may be an initial up front cost to get started and you may also want some customization, there will be a net savings overall with better customer relations thrown in which can be invaluable.

There may be some resistance to using these new tools by the property manager or the onsite superintendent. Once they learn that it can actually save them time and communicate more easily,  they will be willing to quickly adopt online property management techniques. We also find that the larger companies are more likely to embrace these new technologies as compared to small rental companies. They simply do not have the resources to devote to developing, implementing and managing online property management systems. If you are a renter, this might be something to consider when it comes to renting a property.


Property Management Online

Property Manager OnlineAs with all businesses these days, the property management business is also going online for both employees as well as tenants and investors. Property Management Online is a major trend that is impacting all businesses and if your property manager is not heading in that direction it is time to find out why. You could be receiving much more up to date information in real time that also decreases costs over all and allows the owners to keep closer tabs on just about everything.

Online Information for Investors

Investors can look at all of the reports on line regardless of where they are simply by logging on a server or CRM system that the property management company will provide access to. They will be able to see their income statements, expense statements, and all reports. The modern property management online company is now providing these kinds of services. In addition they should be able to review work orders and the status of these orders. In situations where there are multiple investors or owners, a limited number of people may have access to ensure security and privacy levels are maintained. For example the board members might be the only ones with access or someone who is designated the job of keeping tabs on the property manager.

Online Information for Employees

Property management employees can also update the CRM system so that management can review the results, work orders that need to be completed and the status of all of these work orders. All of the information associated with an apartment or facility that is being rented can be viewed online making it easier for everyone to understand what is happening.

This also provides a record of the activities associated with a particular unit. At one glance all work orders for a given unit can be reviewed and the history of the work completed can be viewed. This is a good way to determine if a rental unit has had more work than others completed. The same applies to common areas or the outdoor facilities. It is information that many owners and investors find helpful, but for property managers it is invaluable to them. This information helps them do their jobs better and reduces the cost to manage the building over all.

Corporate memory has long been relied on to manage apartment buildings and town houses as well as commercial properties. There may have been lots of paper records available for someone to dig through, however when it came to finding out what was really going on, you spoke to the superintendent of the building. He or she could always provide anyone with an up to date report of just about everything that was happening.

But what happens when the superintendent leaves for whatever reason. He or she may have retired, or have been let go. All of the real time corporate memory goes with them and this can be a large problem if there are also no accurate records to fall back on. There are many small invoices for repairs that need to be accommodated and if there is no record of them how is anyone really other than the tenant supposed to know.

Also if a tenant was asking for something to be completed in their unit and was turned down for some reason, if there is an online record of this a new superintendent can look at the records and make a decision on better information, rather than just listening to the tenants side of the conversation. There might have been a good reason the request was turned down by the previous manager.

Tenant View of Online Property Management

In some cases tenets of property buildings apartment buildings will also be able to log on the CRM system and view the status of work orders associated with their unit only and any common areas of the building. This provides him with a status update and helps to manage the expectations associated with the apartment.


Estate Manager

Property Management InformationAn estate manager typically looks after the financial planning of the estate and the administration of the estate of the deceased person. Specific types of estate managers may also look after significant property assets that an individual may have had during his lifespan . These assets may consist of investments in the markets, they may consist of property that must be managed, they could consist of business interest that must be kept running. We may not all have a home like this one, but our estates are still worth something and it is important that it is managed properly according to your wishes. Many employee jobs may even be at stake along with their livelihood and their families if there is a company of some kind involved.

Estate Manager – Property

The property manager or estate manager must account for all income from tenants, and all expenses for the property that is being managed. They must also be prepared to provide reports showing the income statement which outlines the income and expenses and the resulting profit and loss situation for the property. Much of this work may be delegated to the property management company that was originally in place and the estate manager may only need to liaise with them to keep everything running smoothly until the estate is wound up and the properties sold.

They must also be well acquainted with the estate planning techniques, as well as property management in the city or state or province that you live. There are significant requirements for estate managers who are also property managers.

Hiring Property Managers

Many estate managers will hire property managers to look after the property assets for the estate or for the deceased person. There may have been a contract in  place for example with the deceased and the property manager. An updated contract would need to be put in place between the estate and the company hired to deliver the property management function.

The skills required are typically not something that many estate managers possess themselves or within their company. The services will be contracted out and it is important for the administrator to understand this. It is also important for the heirs of the estate to appreciate the complexities of the estate and the steps that must be taken to ensure that everything is properly put in place to maintain the value for the estate and the heirs.

Who Can Be Estate Managers

In the vast majority of cases, the estate manager is a member of the family and the estate is wound up in an organized fashion with the guidance of the lawyer for the family and the accountant if there is one. The estate manager must also ensure that all taxes are paid from the estate as well as from the deceased income prior to their passing.

If the estate is complex and significant value, some families will opt for an unbiased estate manager to manage the estate. The fees associated with this sort of service is expensive, but sometimes warranted based on the skills and services that are provided. If there are many assets, investments and property with trust funds being set up it may be necessary to hire an estate manager to look after all of the details. Families need to be prepared to either do the work themselves or hire a professional and pay the required fees.

It is also an emotional time and it is difficult to make decisions that involve family heirlooms as well as investments and property. Someone who is separate from the family and not emotionally involved is sometimes better equipped to handle these affairs and make recommendations regarding various decisions that need to be made.

Finally the services that many people need are legal advice, accounting advice, investment advice and tax advice regarding the best approach to managing the estate as well as winding up the estate. Don’t forget the tax man wants to be paid as well and unfortunately this is one of the things that a lot of people forget about and then find the estate owes more money than everyone thought.


Property Manager Qualifications

Property Manager QualificationsWhen you hire a property manager, property management qualifications must be taken into account, in addition to many other attributes. For example the cost is an obvious one, the experience level of the property management team is another and the services that they will offer to you are another. This assessment can sometimes be quite difficult and take a lot of time with competing interests and different opinions on the board, however the important thing is to do a thorough job and in the end everyone agree on the best company for the job. Ask for other properties that are being managed and interview the owners to confirm service levels etc and other areas that you may be interested in.

Condo Board Decisions – Property Manager Qualifications

If you are interviewing property managers for the job of managing your property, or condominium as part of a board decision, it is important to make sure that you list all of the criteria that you are going to use to rate each property management firm.  Before a request for proposal is even issued, the board must review and agree to the requirements. Everyone will have a variety of opinions and it may be difficult to reach a consensus, but better to do this before the request for proposal is issued than after. The board needs to make sure that all of the requirements are included that satisfy everyone otherwise it is back to the drawing board and a waste of everyone’s time.

Property Manager Qualifications

The property management qualifications include services offered, price for those services, experience levels and knowledge of the current conditions of your property as compared to the legal requirements in the jurisdiction where you live.

Some board members, and owners will prepare a spreadsheet listing all of the services and features and costs and attributes that they’re interested in terms of interviewing a property management company. They will write all of these requirements and they will rank the level of adherence to each of the criteria that they are looking for. Some will have more importance of others and these will also be given a high-ranking. It is much easier when everyone has discussed and agreed to the rankings ahead of time.

Most board members will be well served if they document everything and have a detailed list of criteria that they will use to rank and interview property management companies. This is protection for both the board itself, the property manager and of course the owners of the property. If the board does not take this step and the property manager they hire fails or does not perform, at least you can go back to the documentation to confirm where you went wrong and avoid the same mistake the next time around.

Services Included

The services that are included will depend on whether this is an owner occupied building, a rental building or a mixed use building. Each group has different objectives and it helps to keep them separate.

For example the condo board is responsible to the owners, whether they live in the building or rent their units out. They may need a separate company to manage the rental of the units and the maintenance of the interior of the units. It is not a good idea to have the same management company managing the condo and managing the rental portion of the business. Sometimes there can be some cost savings, however the job of managing a condo is much different from managing a bunch of rental units.

In mixed use buildings there will often be a condo board to manage the condominium corporation and another board made up of owners who rent their units. This second board will be responsible for managing the tenants and the property manager responsible for the interior of the rented units. This board may also represent this subset of owners on the condo board as well.

There can be some conflict in these situations since rental unit owners do not have the same objectives at all compared to people who own their units and live in them. Some sensitivity to both parties is needed if you are going to make it work.

 


Qualifications for Property Management

Weekend House WatchersThe qualifications for property management are pretty loose. Just about anyone can set themselves up as a property manager. The big companies and the serious companies will have trained professionals on staff and people with lots of experience. Some of the smaller companies will hire just about anyone who has had some experience. You need to have experience dealing with tenants. Someone who is handy at looking after property or is available for the job.

Smaller companies and startup property management companies may be light on both experience and qualifications. In addition the board or owners of the property may also not have a lot of experience. They are depending on the property management firm to have the qualifications. They need experience to help them  keep everything legal as well as run the property efficiently and cost effectively.

What are the Qualifications for Property Management to Look For?

The questions most owners of rental buildings and condo board members ask themselves is what should we look for when we hire a property manager. What prices should be paid for the services that are being provided. What services should we expect. On the other hand these companies have an objective to keep everything running smoothly since that maintains their income. But at the same time they want to keep their costs to a minimum.

Many condo or apartment management companies will charge a flat rate per apartment to rent out the unit, to manage the unit and collect the rent. This will include miscellaneous reporting, tax reports, rent rolls and comparison to budgets that have been set up. Some will charge a finder’s fee for renting a unit while others will include this cost as part of their per door fee.

Attending board meetings or owner meetings may be included in the per door fee or they may be extra. Collection services and attending court proceedings may also be included for those situations where tenants skip town and do not pay the rent.

It is important to delve into all of the services that are provided as part of the regular fees and what exclusions are not included. Your property manager’s expertise and qualifications may be a factor in this equation.

Qualifications for Property Management – Government Requirements and Restrictions

Some government jurisdictions are also planning on enacting laws requiring boards and owners to take courses to train them in these areas. This is intended to protect condominium owners who are not on the board and do not always have much of a say in many decisions. The idea is to educate the board, investors and property managers on the functions of a condo board. this includes regulations regarding renting of units and the functions of property managers. The objective is to help everyone avoid costly mistakes and misunderstandings that could cause difficulty for many owners.

Rent increase legislation is popular in many jurisdictions by politicians who are going after the popular vote. Since more people rent than there are owners, these laws often are passed by politicians who are going after votes. They do not really care about the investment needed to maintain a building. Rents will be allowed to increase by a calculated percentage each year based on many factors. Rent controls and rent legislation is another area that property managers need to have expertise in or at least access to.

The smaller companies may not be able to afford to have someone on staff who is familiar with the methodology of how rent increases are calculated. As a result this could be another additional cost. The last thing a landlord wants to encounter is a charge by a tenant that rents have been raised too high and have to rescind some of the rent increases. It is costly and looks bad for the landlord and usually means less maintenance work is completed around the building.

Check out the qualifications for property management carefully before you hire a property manager. Take the appropriate educational courses to set yourself in a good position.

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Real Estate Sales Management

Certified Property ManagerReal estate sales management involves many different aspects beyond the obvious of selling a home, setting it up for sale and managing open houses etc. for example some clients have to move right away and they leave the home vacant, which in some ways is a good thing since there is typically less clutter. The agent may request that the owner do a couple of things to enhance the opportunity of selling this house for the price they are looking for. At the same time they must also ensure that the home is looked after and meets all insurance requirements to keep the insurance valid.

A home should also looked lived in or at least taken care of even when it is vacant. Sometimes a real estate agent must also look after this activity themselves or subcontracts these services if they want to get the house sold. This is just part of the job on the way to a successful sales career.

These steps include the following:

  • Making sure that the house is clean and neat
  • Possibly staging the home with rented furniture to make it look presentable
  • Arranging or causing to be arranged by the owner for someone to maintain the home while it is vacant

We will discuss each of these in a little more detail. Note that the person selling the home i.e. the owner will have to decide how much of this they decide to do and how much they will look after vs. how much they will ask the real estate agent to do on their behalf. Some agents will automatically include this effort and even furniture rental in their fee, while others will suggest that the owner pick up these extra costs.

Making sure that the house is clean and neat:

The last thing that buyers want to see is a messy home which they not only will have to clean if they buy it, but it also indicates a general attitude of not taking care of the home. Your agent will push you to clean up this situation and may even arrange for cleaners at your cost to come in and clean up after you. The same applies to the outside curb appeal. Nice landscaping, a newly cut lawn and healthy plants indicates that the current owner cares about his or her home.

Possibly staging the home with rented furniture to make it look presentable:

if you have moved and the house is empty it is much harder for a prospective buyer to visualize what the home looks like with furniture in it. Some agents will place furniture and some pictures in the home to help buyers with this issue. They may already have furniture of their own they use for this purpose or they will rent them for you at your cost.  Real estate management may include this kind of staging to help sell a home.

Arranging or causing to be arranged by the owner for someone to maintain the home while it is vacant:

this item is particularly important for people who have been transferred and have had to move before the home is sold. In order to maintain your insurance on your home, there will be specific things that must be done. For example many will ask that the water be shut off and the house checked once a week. Checks more often may be required if the outside temperature is below freezing. Real estate agents want to ensure there are no delays in selling a home due to damage cause by water leaks and other problems that occur from time to time.

Real estate property management can encompass more than just these items, however we decided to focus on those associated with selling a home.

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Residential and Commercial Property Management

Residential and Commercial Property ManagementThe management of residential and commercial properties is similar in some ways and very different in others. If you happen to be a landlord of residential properties, either single family homes, town homes or apartment buildings you will want to consider hiring a property manager who is familiar with managing residential properties. There are various bylaws and government laws that are specific to residential property and you need companies that have the experience and knowledge on what is required and how to deal with these requirements. The tenants are also very different and have many different needs, come from various income strata’s and there are also many more of them as well.

Commercial Property Management

Commercial property management can be anything from large corporate malls to large office buildings that require building upgrades and modifications to meet the customer’s professional requirements. Long term leases with rental guarantees etc would be the order of the day and competition ruling the rent levels and the services provided. Managers deal with far fewer tenants. In some cases the building may be rented by one large tenant, while in others floors may be subdivided to accommodate multiple tenants.

Residential Property Management

Residential property management on the other hand is governed by the rent levels that the market will bear along with what increases the government will allow in many cases. Many more tenants to deal with per building and perhaps even many owners if it is a multi unit condo for example with many owners for the individual units. In some cases there may be a group of investors who purchase a building and then hire a management company to manage the rental building for them. With multiple objectives on one side and multiple needs on the other, the job of being a residential property manager can be quite complicated and time-consuming. This leads many property managers of residential homes to charge more per door than they would for a single owner building.

Professional Systems

In both cases professional level cash flow tracking systems, asset tracking systems and a method of reporting that meets the needs of the owners and / or the board of directors of a condominium board. Condominiums represent another type of property management, were the property manager is hired to manage all of the common elements of the building and has virtually nothing to do with the interior of the units. Some units could even be rented and managed by different property management companies all together. This also adds complexity in terms of finger pointing on some issues.

Hire Experienced People

A property management company must have the right people in place to manage all different sorts of situations and buildings. If you are a customer, paying attention to the kinds of buildings currently managed and the level of skills, reporting etc is important. You may also want to talk with current customers of the property management company to confirm satisfaction levels and ensure that their customers are satisfied with the services provided.

The type of information that is needed and provided may be quite different depending on the owners and the property management companies. the number one objective is to provide excellent customer service to both tenants and owners. But sometimes you cannot satisfy everyone and that then becomes the biggest challenge of all. Property managers must first make sure they are following the laws, they must be fair and honest and they must answer to the person or group that pays them. Ultimately that is what it comes down to . Doing what is right, what is fair to all parties  and making sure that to the extent you can everyone’s expectations are met. If they are not met, you had better have a good reason and a good explanation to explain why it is not the way they would like to be!

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Property Portfolio Management

Vacant Home Property ManagementProperty portfolio management must be considered for those organizations who have a large suite of properties to manage. This may consist of several buildings in several cities with each city represented by a property portfolio manager and reporting as a unit on the set of properties they are responsible to manage. On the other hand for large companies managing properties that consist of rental properties for consumers as well as commercial properties, there may be a different organizational approach to managing these properties. The portfolios may be divided commercial, residential apartment, residential homes etc depending on the quantity and the location of these properties. There must also be on site or at least in city property management personal as well to take care of local details.

Property Portfolio Management

Properties can be divided into portfolios that represent types of rental properties. Depending on the size of the company and the amount of specialization that is desired, this could mean the portfolios are divided between commercial and residential for example. Commercial could be further divided by the type of commercial property such as mall or big box type commercial properties vs. office buildings that have predominantly office workers with a small amount of store fronts serving that office building. Each type takes specialized knowledge and skills that will ensure that the properties are run well and the tenants are satisfied with their services.

Residential can be subdivided by single family homes, town homes and apartment style buildings. The type of tenant varies a great deal and the needs of the buildings are very different as well. Note that the property portfolio management approach still requires an onsite property manager to deal with day to day issues and solve immediate tenant concerns and issues, including rental of units and approval of prospective tenants.

It can become much more complex when you have multiple cities involved and a mix of commercial tenants with residential tenants. If a building is predominantly residential with a few commercial stores on the first floor, does the residential property manager look after the commercial tenants or does the commercial property portfolio management team look after them? Turns out the answer is probably yes to both.

Local superintendents will look after the entire building. Commercial property portfolio management will look after all contracts with the commercial companies and the residential property portfolio management will view this lease of the space by commercial customers as just another tenant in their predominantly residential building. Most companies will need to work through these details while ensuring that they provide the best service to their customers and maintaining a profit for the owner.

Online tracking of rents, expenses, work orders etc is further complicated when there are multiple buildings in multiple cities to manage. Senior managers want to be updated each morning with a dashboard they can review that provides them with the current status of all of the issues they are interested in.

These could include rent collection status, delinquent rents, outstanding work orders, value of the work orders in terms of cost and so on. They also want to be able to drill down and examine details on any given report and take the appropriate action on items that they fell should be prioritized.  Data systems to store the data, collate it and present it in a format suitable for these needs must be purchased or designed. Data networks that provide connectivity to these systems from corporate offices as well as remote superintendent locations. Rental managers must be able to have access to rental contracts and systems that will allow them to track tenants as well as report up the line to senior managers. For larger companies they may even have an IT department to manage everything from email, data storage, accounting systems, PC needs, smart phone needs and telephone requirements.

Every rental property management company needs these services, however the size of the company will dictate how sophisticated the IT system will be. For more posts about property management topics, click here.


Property Management Systems

Property Management SystemsProperty management systems can make a huge difference in terms of both managing multiple properties and providing information to your clients. Information at your finger tips has been the desired approach for some time for most property managers and owners. With property management systems that are available online or on your smart phone, many property managers can now answer questions instantly using their smart phones that are connected to the property management systems online. Access to rental contracts, work orders, setting up tracking lists and much more are not only available to the superintendent, but also to the management team responsible to manage the overall set of property investments. These sorts of applications save a great deal of time which in turn saves money.

Property Management Systems – Server based

These systems have come a long way from the time they were run on local computers using DOS systems. They now run on servers that can be accessed from almost anywhere remotely from systems that are located at the actual rental building on a wireless basis, from home and from smart phones that are carried by the local property manager superintendent. Imagine you have a tenant with a problem in their unit. Not only can you log the problem immediately, provide a status when it is assessed and issue a work order to have the issue dealt with right from your smart phone. When the problem is resolved, it can be reported, pictures taken, transmitted and closed using a smart phone application and all information is available to management and their customers.

Modern property management companies are adopting this software and providing their employees with the latest capabilities to their customers or clients as well. Now they can provide online reports that management has reviewed to their clients as well. This changes the total relationship with the customer and the tenants and makes it much easier to manage all properties.

Dealing with Property Owners

Property managers also must report to their owners and to the investors that have invested in the property that they are managing. This is extremely important if they are to retain contracts, year over year based on relationships with the owners and providing real time summaries and answers to their issues. Providing up to date and accurate information regarding rents collected, expenses during the month and a year to date comparison to the budget are the usual kinds of reports that most investors will look for.

The annual report is also one of the most important documents that is produced by the property manager. It may be subject to an audit and may also provide the information needed by owners to file their income taxes. This information must be accurate and meet all federal tax guidelines otherwise owners could end up paying more tax than they would normally have to pay.

Some condo boards and property owners will request that these reports be audited to satisfy themselves that all transactions are accurate and allocated appropriately. This provides a sense of confidence to the owners and the investors that their assets are being managed properly and that funds are not being used inappropriately. The tax department will also look on claims etc more favorably as well when a year end annual statement has been audited.

Property Management Systems – Tenants

Many people who are living in rented apartments are dissatisfied with the way their buildings are being managed. They may report that some item needs to be repaired and then nothing is done. Not only is it not corrected, there is no record of any report being made. This is typical of the older antiquated systems which do not have online access and paper or someone’s memories can simply be lost or forgotten. With an online system using smart phone access, reports can be completed immediately,  with pictures taken and then the item can be easily tracked.

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Building Management Services

Vacant Home Property ManagementWhy do owners of registered condo buildings need to have building management services? For both the condo building and building management services for the rental operation of the same building? This is a situation that is actually quite common. Anyone who is either an investor or someone who plans to live in the building that is a registered condo should know the difference. We will try to explain the difference between the two and why you need separate building management service for each one.

Basically there is a business entity that is responsible for all of the common elements of the building. This is the condo or the strata as it is referred to in some locations. All owners participate and can vote on various issues that the board of directors will bring to them at a general meeting. In addition all owners are eligible to be on the board of directors as well.

They are responsible for setting a budget, establishing and maintaining an adequate reserve fund and providing the owners with at minimum an annual report of all financial and operational status. The board will usually hire a building management service or property manager to look after all of these things on their behalf.

Building Management Services and the Board

It is up to the representatives of the building management service to fulfill and carry though all of the boards requirements provided that they are legal of course and comply with the bylaws of the property or condominium. This is a pretty standard example of building management service.

Some Units will be Rented

At some buildings a large number of units may be rented out to tenants. If one owner happens to own these rental units, they may hire a building management service to manage the rental of their units, collect the rent and provide upkeep to the interior of the units. They have no responsibility of looking after the exterior of the building.

They work for each individual owner and are responsible for managing the tenant or tenants that rent units in the building they are in. If there are multiple owners who own rental units in the building along with people who own and live in the building, the rental unit owners sometimes will band together to hire one management company to manage all of the rental units in an attempt to reduce their costs overall.

These can be two separate building management services or sometimes they can be the same company, with different people within the building management company responsible for the condo side and the rental side of the business. There is no business or legal relationship between the condo and any tenants that are renting or between the various rental building management services. They are separate entities and all must abide by the condo bylaws etc. Separate financial reports are needed for both entities to ensure that there is no mixing of accounts and payments.

Tenant vs. Owner Issues

Many people find this confusing especially at meetings of the unit owners, however it is important to keep these things separate and distinct. For example if a tenant is causing problems in the building and other owners are complaining, the complaints must be given to the condo building management who in turn will contact the owner of that unit. It is up to the owner of that unit to deal with his or her tenant or the building management company that is managing his or her rental units. The rental building management service will need to then follow up with the tenant to ensure that no more complaints are received.

Hope this helps to explain one aspect of building management service. For more information about building management and property management services, click here.


Building Management Service

Vacant Home Property ManagementBuilding management service provided by property management companies can vary a great deal. If you are an owner looking to hire a company to provide you with this type of service, there are many issues to consider. We will cover a few of the building management service items that owners of single family buildings all the way up to multiple unit buildings should consider. You may want to prepare a complete list of services that you require. Then request quotes for these services before hiring a building management service company.

Property Management Service List

The list of possible service items that you may want to consider are as follows:

  • Rental of all units
  • Tenant selection
  • Place advertising to fill rental units
  • Collection of rents and collection of overdue rents including small claims courts
  • Review and check of all units pre-occupancy and post occupancy
  • Administration of damage deposits and last month rents
  • Repair and maintenance of all interior items to the unit
  • Repair and maintenance of all exterior items of the building
  • Preparation of an annual budget
  • Report on monthly revenue and expenses
  • Emergency response to maintenance items
  • Hiring of on site managers if needed
  • Management of on site managers if needed
  • Other specific services to the building that you may require

We suggest that owners who are planning to hire a Building Management Service company to provide these services receive very explicit contract guidelines. They can review and understand them, prior to hiring a company of this type.  The contract should state the specifics of what will  be done in as many specific situations as possible. You may require the company to contact you prior to spending any money over $50 for example in an effort to control the costs. You might provide them with specific guidelines for the kind of tenants you want to have in your building. They will attempt to carry out your instructions provided that they meet local and state laws. Specifics such as time frames, cost and actions to be completed by  a specific date should be included as much as possible.

Property Management Reports

Building manage service and contracts covering these services can be very general. It is always a good idea to check with the company providing building management service to you on a regular basis. Request status reports and monitor financial reports on a monthly basis at a minimum. Once you gain confidence with the company you have hired, you may consider relaxing this level of vigilance. In our experience it is a good habit to get into where you monitor the expenses and status reports once a month. Letting the building management service know that you review the reports etc will also help to keep them vigilant as well.

Less specific items should also include your rental strategy. For example what is your rent level going to be, how much will you increase rent each month? Will you rent to only seniors or people with kids or people with pets. There are all kinds of rental strategies to consider. You may decide to leave a unit vacant while you hold out for a tenant willing to pay a higher rent and take care of the place. This can mean less damages and lower cost to you the owner and to the property manager as well. Discuss all of these sorts of items with your manager and write them down so that everyone is clear on your strategy.

Building management service can be provided for individual homes, for apartment buildings that are condos. Also for rental units that make up the total building or part of a building. There are lots of combinations and we will discuss one example in our next post about the services that property managers can provide.

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Property Asset Management

Property Management SystemsProperty asset management is an important part of the property management job. Not only is property management responsible for managing  tenants, renting units, paying common expenses and letting contracts to complete repairs, they are also responsible for managing both fixed assets as well as non fixed assets.  Units must be rented, contracts signed with tenants and rent collected on a monthly basis either by check or by electronic means. This is the common most understood portion of property management. But keeping track of all of the assets and completing an inventory every year or more often if needed is a necessary part of the job. Missing items have to be replaced and this can represent an additional cost to the owners. As a result of an inventory audit of the asserts, further action may be needed to investigate chronic problems.

Property Asset Management

Property asset management is another major part of the job that is completed by property managers on behalf of their clients. Management of fixed assets includes repairs, painting, plumbing etc as needed for both interior and exterior portions of the building. Sometimes enhancements are planned to make the building more attractive to tenants and customers. Management of non fixed assets also is needed for asset in common areas of buildings, assets in each unit that is rented and assets that are needed to allow for properly maintain the building.

These items could include tools, ladders, cleaning supplies and supplies typically needed for routine repairs. This also includes items such as refrigerators, stoves and cook tops, dryers, washing machines and dish washers if the apartment or town home is equipped with all of these items. Common areas might have chairs and tables, a stove and refrigerator in shared common rooms or club houses etc.

All of these repairs and purchases need to be recorded as expenses and the larger items accounted for in the asset management system being employed by the property management income company. This is required to keep track of how much money is spent on various categories and for the larger items that  depreciate as well. This is necessary for tax purposes to ensure that the appropriate tax deductions are taken to avoid paying too much tax under the tax law. Each asset may be in a different tax class and any repairs and changes must be reflected accordingly.

Property managers need to have all of this material recorded in the asset management system. In addition contracts between the owner and the property manager must stipulate the requirements for tracking purposes and also reporting purposes. This information must be made available to the owners accountants for audit purposes as well as for preparation of the tax statements at the end of each year.

Manage Contracts

Contracts should include what reports are required on a monthly basis as well as on an annual basis. Most will include rental income, rental expenses, rental records, lease records, and income statements. In addition, asset changes should also be reported. In most cases the report will include or report the value of assets at the beginning of the period, the additions and removal of assets during the period and then the value of the final assets at the end of the period. The property manager should also be able to report an inventory of all assets as well.

This is pretty standard for property managers and expected by client owners. Many owners will review these reports regularly as part of their due diligence and over view of the property that they own. Owners will also query anything that looks out of place and any large expenses that may be reported.

Property managers should be prepared to deal with these questions and even provide a narrative report routinely addressing anything that owners may be concerned about. They should be preparing these exception reports as a matter of course to deal with questions that the owner is likely to have. This saves time for everyone.

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Assets Property Management

Property Manager QualificationsMany residential rental property owners are focused on the income and expense side of the equation since this is the primary cash flow that will impact their ability to pay all of their expenses associated with the property that they own. There is another element of property management that needs to be discussed and that is assets property management.

Some units will be rented without furniture; however there may be the basics such as fridge, stove, microwave and possibly a washing machine and clothes dryer. There will be screens on the windows, lights, faucets, toilets and chandeliers. While this may seem extreme in terms of asset management, some property owners have found much to their frustration that these things are missing when they come to inspect after the tenant has moved out.

Assets Property Management

Fully Furnished

At the other extreme, some rental units will come fully equipped with furniture, beds and bedding, kitchen utensils and basically everything that a person needs to live. All you need to do is bring your clothes. This is a far more complex asset property management situation where there are a lot of items to inventory and keep track of. Tenants look for cleanliness and good quality utensils, clean linens as basic requirements. Property mangers often hire cleaners to go in after tenants leave to clean the place. They will make the cleaning fee a part of the charge for renting the property in addition to whatever is charged on a per month or daily basis.

In addition there may be other items in or around the property that must be tracked and included in the assets of the property. There are several reasons to keep track of all assets that are in and around a property. These are:

  • Track assets for tax purposes for deductions and depreciation purposes.
  • Keep track of assets for an inventory purpose to ensure nothing is stolen when tenants leave.
  • Track assets from an expense perspective to report on the books for income statements etc

Property managers can be contracted to track all of these items on behalf of a owner client, or the owner client may track these things themselves. If the property manager is responsible for this element of asset management, proper tools must be used to record the date of purchase or the date first entered into the record, the value of the item and a description of the item all linked to the unit that this asset is located in. All additions and removals must also be recorded as well.

Informal or Formal Asset Tracking

Some property managers will perform the function of asset property management informally and use a camera to record everything and perhaps focus on the major items in the home. Others may perform and maintain a very detailed asset property management function. There is a significant difference in the amount of time required to perform these functions and each owner must evaluate the benefits of a detailed inventory vs. the cost of maintaining such an inventory.

Most companies will focus on the major items and leave the details of smaller items to the owner. However asset property management is extremely important  for tax related reasons, since these items can be written off against income either from a depreciation perspective or from a total write off perspective.

Assets Property Management – Year End Reports

Year end reports will cover income and expenses for the property. These same reports will also show the total value of assets at the beginning of the year, the additions and deletions during the year and the final total assets at the end of the year.

Owners and clients will monitor all of these reports as part of their ongoing management of the property and the services provided by the property management company.

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Property Management Information

Property Management InformationOwners of rental buildings want a lot of property management information from their property managers. They look for regular reports at the end of each month. Rent rolls, status reports on various activities, annual reports, tax reports for filing with the government, rental reports to substantiate rent increases and a host of additional information that is needed from time to time. Most of all they want to make sure that there are no surprises. That they are kept abreast of all issues that could develop into serious problems requiring their attention. They also need reports and information on maintenance activities along with any improvements that have been completed.

Property Management Information – End of the Month Reports

At the end of each month, property management information should include a total income and expense report. It should show the rental income for the month and the year to date numbers. It should also show the expenses in the same format for all categories that have been agreed will be tracked and reported on. Anything that is not tracked will be lumped into a general category which will also be monitored. Rental units rented and the rent collected, end of lease projections, empty units, and collection activities should also be reported. They also want to be made aware of any special issues that should be brought to their attention. For example renters that skipped on their rent, renters that are behind on their rent, damage reports, repairs that were needed and so on.

Status Reports

There may be various projects and upgrades that are underway. A status report is usually provided to give owners who cannot get to the property an update. Pictures may be included and a discussion of any issues that have come up along with decisions that may be pending should be included. Some owners will want a monthly meeting to review this information. This meeting can be accomplished face to face if they are in the same city, however more often it will be a quick conference call which saves everyone time.

Annual Reports

Annual reports summarizing the year and projections for the coming year are also needed. These reports allow owners to budget properly and prepare financial cash flows if needed to cover under runs or large maintenance issues that may be needed. This is the time when budgets are discussed for the coming year. Every line item is often gone over and adjusted based on inflation, specific needs of the property and even specific agendas of the owners. Property managers usually prepare an initial budget which is then reviewed with the owners and adjustments made.

Tax Reports

Tax reports are also provided on an annual basis as part of the annual property management information flow. These reports can be provided to accountants who will incorporate the appropriate cash flows into the owners income tax reports to the government. This is an extremely important element that must be completed. Depending on the arrangement and the skill sets available at the property managers office, these reports may be prepared in-house or they may be sent out to a 3rd party accountant to prepare on everyone’s behalf on an impartial basis. This should not be construed as an audit. It is a tax report based on the information provided to the accountant.

If there is only one owner, discussions and decisions are often very straight forward and can be conducted easily. If there are multiple owners, the decisions take longer because of the discussion that is needed to come to a resolution on any item. This is just a natural phenomenon that should be accounted for in any schedule by the property manager in dealing with things like budgets, tax reports and any decisions that are needed. Often a board of directors will interface with the property manager and go over all of the property management information. The job of the board is to review all reports and make sure that results are in line with expectations for the budget and for the owners.


Rental Manager

Investment Property ManagementA rental manager for a large property management company spends a lot of time advertising for tenants, interviewing tenants, approving tenants and setting rent levels as well as defending those levels to tenants and government authorities in jurisdictions that have rental controls in place. One of the worst nightmares that a rental manager can have is to rent to a bad tenant. They cause a lot of damage, do not pay their rent and it is hard to get rid of them. Screening of tenants is one of the most important things that a rental manager can do.

Rental Manager – Manage Rent Levels

Rent levels have to be set based on  market conditions, the type of tenant you want in your building, the amenities that are offered in your building, and the occupancy rate for your building. Rental managers must take all of these conditions into account when setting rental levels and offering discounts in some cases to tenants as enticements at various times.

Low rents may attract the wrong type of tenant which means you get people who are not good at paying their rent and do not have pride in the place they live. High rents can sometimes mean that units stay vacant for a longer period and you do not have the rental income, but then you do not have the damages either that many people cause.

Some governments have in place rental controls to avoid rent levels from increasing too fast. They will have prescribed increases that are approved each year and the rental manager must be able to justify their increases and show that they are within the level that has been prescribed by the government regulations. If the rent increases will be larger than allowed, sometimes they can be approved however substantial documentation must be provided to substantiate the increases that are above the allowed limits.

Balance Income and Expenses

In addition the expenses must be covered by the rental income. There is a balance between income and what can be spent each year in terms of regular expenses to operate the building, maintenance, upgrades and a reasonable profit. This also must be taken into account by the rental manager when setting the rental rates for the coming year.

This is a significant balancing act that most rental managers must deal with in addition to dealing with tenants, reviewing applications and setting contracts / leases for units. There are good and bad tenants at all income stratas. The trick is to pick out the people who will always pay their rent on time and take care of the place they rent for you. No one wants a deadbeat renter.

You even have to be careful of rental managers who will say nice things about tenants merely to get them out of their building because they are in fact a bad tenant. This actually happens much more than you think.

Screen Tenants

Take the time to screen tenants and always use a screening service. The service may cost you some money, but it will be worth it in the long run when you avoid a lot of damage or lost rent when they skip town and do not pay their rent. This is money well spent. In one case we know of, a couple applied to rent an apartment and were in a bad credit situation.

They had over 20 credit cards and were not making he payments on these credit cards. Can you imagine if you rented to them. What do you think the chances are that  they would be able or willing to pay you the rent check on time? There is very little likely hood that they would pay your rent and then you would be facing court costs to get rid of them and collect what is owed to you.

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Property Manager Training

Property ManagementProperty management training can be learned on the job and in the classroom. There is nothing like on the job training for many professions, including property managers; however no one wants to pay for someone to be trained on the job and have to live with their mistakes. Most property managers will take a variety of courses these days to certify them for property management and to ensure that they understand the basics of what it takes to manage a building and all of the associated tenant issues. A well-trained property manager can save you thousands of dollars in better tenants and reduced expenses! Better tenants cause less damage and some will even spend small amounts improving their units in return for great service and good relations with the property manager.

Property Manager Training

Other Aspects of Property Management

Property management is also much more than just dealing with maintenance of various components that are required to keep a building safe and operational. There can be a lot of interaction with clients. This interaction can be with the owners who want status updates, who want see that their money is invested wisely and spent in a manner that makes sense for them and the tenants. Above all they would like the opportunity to continue making a profit going forward in time.

There is also a lot of interaction with tenants as well. In one respect the property manager is representing the owner. They are the interface that the tenants see possibly every day and their frustration etc with owner policies can be taken out on the property manager.

The property manager is also the guy who can help the tenants with a lot of minor issues which enhances the reputation of both the owners and management. It is the property manager’s job to interpret the guidelines imposed by the owner and apply them to many different situations that may arise with tenants and with the building he or she is responsible for.

Property Management is a People Job

In many cases property management must also be a people job. With all of the interaction with tenants, owners, various trades that come to the property to do some kind of work and guests of the tenants, property managers need to have excellent people skills as well.

Diffusing a situation that could erupt and involve all tenants for example can make for a far more harmonious workplace as well as save everyone a lot to time, energy and emotional distress. Property managers must be good at dealing with and managing people without getting everyone upset.

Property management training does not always cover these practical aspects of managing a building. Really this is more about interactions with customers and management. It is about dealing with problems and solving them. It is about people management, conflict management and communications. Not all property management courses cover these areas or provide training in communications for example

Local Bylaws and City or State Laws

Another area that property managers must pay attention to is local laws and bylaws that might affect the day-to-day decision-making when it comes to dealing with tenants, trades and city inspectors. Most people do not even realize that in some cities there are bylaws covering a multitude of issues and as a property manager it is your job to be aware of those that may affect your job and the building you are responsible to manage. If you decide to move to a new city to take a property management job, some time should be spent getting to know all of the local bylaws that might impact your new job.

At the very least, spend some time reviewing the major ones that could get you or your owners in a spot of trouble.

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Property Management Maintenance

Property Manager OnlineProperty management maintenance is so important for owners as well as renters and most of the time neither is completely happy. Renters never feel that the maintenance that is done on their building that they live in is fast enough and it is never good enough. Owners feel that the maintenance costs too much, that renters are damaging their property and just do not care enough to take good care of the building they live in.  It is a fine line and at the end of the day, there must be enough money to pay for everything and still make a profit for the owner without totally gauging the tenant.

Caught in between is the property manager who must work to find a balance between both parties without spending more money than what they need to. Sometimes he or she will assess the tenant for obvious damages, sometimes they will delay minor repairs to group several together and save money by only having one service call. And sometimes they will delay major maintenance by using temporary measures simply because there is not enough money to cover everything when it is needed. But the property manager ultimately works for the owner and is the owners representative on the property. It is the property managers responsibility to implement the policies and guidelines of the owners at all times using their best judgement in many different situations.

Making matters worse is the government which regulates how quickly you can raise rental rates to pay for increasing taxes, interest rates and property management maintenance which goes up almost every year. Building a budget that factors in these increases and the rent increases sometimes will help property managers and the owners keep a building looking great for many years. In fact budgeting for repairs and building up a fund to handle emergencies and major repairs is just sound business practice.

Property Management Maintenance – Budgeting

Rental properties are some of the most difficult buildings to manage from a maintenance perspective for many of the reasons mentioned above. In addiction, for rental buildings there usually must be two separate and distinct budgets.

One budget must be set up to manage and pay for all tenant related expenses associated with the units that are being rented.  This would include any repainting, carpet cleaning and repairs after a tenant moves out. If the repairs are normal wear and tear, then the owner must absorb these costs out of the general revenue for the property. Appliances only last so long and carpets need to be replaced every so many years. Damages must be repaired for and paid, prior to collecting anything from the tenant. This all must be accounted for and included in a budget so that there is money available to cover these expenses. If damages are being assessed against a tenant, the owner must make the repairs and pay for them prior to collecting from the tenant.

The second budget that must be set up is for the building itself. This would include all common expenses and may include cleaning, window washing, common lighting, snow removal, garbage removal, repairs to the roof or windows and so on. Some of these expenses are operational in nature in that they occur on a regular basis weekly or monthly, while others should be accounted for over a longer term. A roof replacement is a good example and ideally money should be set aside every year to handle all major repairs such as this. In some locations, budgeting for these expenses is in fact part of the bylaws of the building particularly if the building is a condo and all expenses are shared by multiple owners.

There is a lot of responsibility for property managers. They are accountable for everything that goes on at the building they are managing. Hiring an excellent property manager who has experience and a good relationship with all parties will make a huge difference with everyone.

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