Apartment Property Management

Apartment property management is considered the managing of a multi-unit rental property and the residents or tenants that occupy it. These properties can range from small multi-unit buildings to very large complexes housing hundred of residents. Residential property management is a more industry used term and could include the managing of single-family homes as well as apartment complexes.

As you can imagine the managing of these types of properties can become quite complex and time consuming in comparison to managing a single-family house. Many owners of apartment buildings do not have the time, expertise or the desire to manage such on their own. In these cases, it is recommended to hire a qualified property management company that specializes in apartment property management.

Responsibilities of an Apartment Property Manager

Here are just a few apartment property management responsibilities that could be required of anyone managing an apartment building:

  • Rent collection

  • Showing available units to prospective tenants

  • Credit and background checks

  • Initiating lease contracts

  • Monitoring and processing lease renewals

  • Enforcing the rules of a lease contract

  • Dealing with violators of a lease contract

  • Handling an eviction from start to finish

  • Mediator when feuds between tenants occur

  • Utilities

  • Grounds keeping

  • Security and safety of premise

  • All types of maintenance issues or repairs you could think of

  • Knowledge of landlord/tenant law

  • Knowledge of fair housing laws

Not ready to manage your Apartment Buildings YourselfThe good news is you can enjoy all the financial benefits of owning these types of properties but not have to deal with the managerial responsibilities of managing them. Some apartment building investors though may decide to take on certain responsibilities themselves. This is a great way to educate yourself, learn from real life experience the in's and out's of the real estate investing business and of course save some money. That being said, we highly recommend acquiring legal advice or counsel if you are unfamiliar with landlord/tenant and fair housing laws in your state and at the federal level.

Hiring an Apartment Property Management company

There are many apartment property management companies in your area who are well-qualified, licensed, and well versed in city, state and federal laws regarding the responsibilities between landlord and tenant. If you're ready to delegate the management of your apartment building today, we recommend interviewing several apartment property management companies. Having an apartment property manager on site at your apartment complexes is a good idea, especially when you cannot oversee the maintenance and renting business that comes with owning larger properties. Often, on-site apartment property managers that maintain apartments will be given their own apartment as part of their compensation.

Things to ask before hiring an apartment property management company

Experience - How long in business. Does the Apartment Property Management team have a proven system in place to streamline operations such as maintenance repair, timely statements, rental deposits, and communication channels? More companies are giving owners access to their property account information via a web site portal. Here you can view your statements, any repair items or rent deposits..etc.

Credentials - Does the Apartment Property Management team possess all licenses or certification required by state law? Unfortunately every state licensing requirement is different. We always recommend using a licensed Property Manager for all your rental property needs whether state required or not.

What percentage of their management portfolio are apartment complexes. If 90% of their portfolio is managing single-family homes, you may want to consider hiring one with more experience in managing larger multi-units.

Get references - Always ask for a current list of properties they manage (do some drive-by's) and talk to other property owners who are their clients.

We suggest hiring a local real estate lawyer to review the Manager/Owner contract and the Landlord/Tenant contract. And don't be afraid to request changes be made if necessary.

And go over all the fees involved in the management of your property. Set up fees, lease renewal fees, do they impose a mark up fee for service/repair calls etc. Find out what their cancellation policy is too. Once you think you've got all your questions answer, then ask this one "Are there any other fees I should know about that we have not discuss that may affect me?"

Investing in apartments for cash flow

Investing in apartment buildings is a great way to build your real estate wealth. Typically these types of properties do well for cash flow to the investor versus single-family houses where you may see appreciation in value more common. When qualifying these types of properties for your portfolio you will want to take into account the passive income that will be generated along with the expense ratio. It's all about the numbers. A good apartment property management company should be able to help you in your decision-making.

Is The Property Management Business For You? Mini Guide For Real EstateInvestors - Part 1

This mini guide for real estate investors is written to help entrepreneurs like you with the mystery of property management career. The investment risks are higher when decisions are made without enough information. By now you know that you want to invest profitably in real estate or already started the process. All the motivation is coming from your desire for financial independence. I know that, because I am with you right on the very same goal.

Assume you have just purchased your investment property. It does not matter whether it is a 10--unit apartment building, a small office building or a single--family home. It is an attractive rental property and you are asking a fair market value rent.

You should have no problem attracting tenants and maintaining a high level of occupancy. What happens with the tenants once they move in is going to depend on you.

The problems with property management are not caused by the business itself, as much as by a lack of education. The property management is the most misunderstood parts of real estate investing. If you do not have good property management, then you will have high management costs, bad tenant relationships, high vacancies and that will be the end of your business.

You would consider these ideas in making your managing investment decision; I did it when I started:

  1. The money you save, by doing property management, may mean the difference between a positive or a negative cash flow for your rental business.

  2. Managing your own properties, at least in the beginning and learning the management business is something to consider. After you become familiar with the manager responsibilities and acquire more properties, you will be able to do a better job of managing professional managers.

  3. More management and investment resources are available at my website.

How I start my property management? I went to school to gain my knowledge before facing the real life competition. I start my property management from the bottom up. My previous experience with real estate renting was being a good tenant for about five years in two different places.

Eight years ago I passed the real estate agent state examination and I worked for two brokers and managed properties on the side to build experience. I got my associate broker license in real estate about four years ago.

We resettled in the U. S. A. coming from communist collapsing East Europe, in 1990. Our assets at that time were intangible, mechanical engineering education and big hopes.

We did not have this game of "getting rich with properties" in the socialist economies. Actually, it was forbidden to even think about owning properties. It took me five years to comprehend there is a less risky way of investing by using real estate properties and rentals.

For $50 and about one hour conversation with our previous property manager -- a very nice lady -- I was in business. The management forms I received helped me to build my forms and gave me enough confidence before the closing on my first apartment building. I was on my way, investing in real estate and managing my own properties for profit. This is how I started my property management career. Now, I appreciate a property management career or a job in property management a lot more.

I am not preaching here to manage your rentals yourself forever. For us, property management is part of getting the necessary life experience to succeed in this new country.

Dealing with people and their needs gets messy if you do not use a system. Qualifying the potential applicant over the telephone saves time and money. Renting real estate is the toughest part of the property management job. Here is how my qualifying filter system is working:

The local newspaper classified ads bring most of my renting real estate applicants. I call them Potential Applicants (PA) before submitting the rental application. I give to potential applicants enough info in the newspaper, so they may drive by and talk with our tenants. The prospect applicant should come ready, wanting to rent the apartments from us, because we take good care of the tenants and the apartments.

This is what I want with my ads.

"My town, clean 1 bedroom apt. $500 plus deposit, utilities included, A/C, coin laundry available, 123 Main Street, (222) 333-4444"

They have the address for the location, that the utilities are free and my cell phone number. Here are examples of first conversations over the phone with the potential applicants (PA).

PA: Hello, is the apartment available? Me: Yes, when you want to move in? My name is Ernest. PA: Thanks, my name is Mary. It is for my son John; He is planning to move soon. Me: Sorry, is it a strong reason way your son can't call himself?

(My experience tells me I may stop here and deal with the real party later, the relatives or friends have a different agenda sometime. In reality, I continue giving information about renting.)

The son is calling me later.

PA: Where is this apartment located?

Me: At the corner of Main and Grand, next to the gas station, across the Seven Eleven. Look for apartment no.30. You can drive by and get from "Take One" box, an application with info printed the other side. PA: Do you accept pets?

Me: What do you have in mind as pet? (Reptiles, rodents, dangerous dogs, etc are not on my list, I ask because the applicant will talk and I can mind his/her personality).

PA: It was my aunt' cat and she is 10 years old, etc. Me: Yes, we accept a qualified cat with a "Pet agreement". The no refundable fee is $175. Do you have some pay stubs from your job? That will help us to check your employment; or

PA: No, I receive social security checks, I am on disability.

(To assume when renting real estate that all tenants on assistance or seniors will be bad is wrong. Some may get a co-signer.)

Me: Sorry we only take applications if the total monthly documented net income is 3 times the rent. The no refundable application fee is only $20 and we do a credit report request and pay a different company for that service. (Some applicants just gives up after this phrase.); or

PA: Yes I work two jobs: manager at Mac Donald and telephone marketing at night. My girlfriend is working as telephone marketer. Together we make $1400 a month.

(This is a border line situation, they may pay for a few months and something is happening and girl/boy friend is gone. He/she no longer qualifies by income requirements. In this cases if the vacancy is hurting me and I cannot wait for a better applicant, I might take them, but the lease will have a clause: "If he or she intends to leave any time, they both must leave at the same time"); or:

PA: Yes, I work part-time at "Printing Nice" and I am full-time student. It is my fist time out of home; my mom may co-sign the lease.

Me: OK, bring your mom when you want to see the apartment.

PA: We want to see it, Saturday morning at 12 noon, it is our time to look for apartments.(PA may put some pressure on you)

Me: OK, see you then, at apartment no.30 second floor, a sign "For Rent" is in the window/door.

The potential applicant interview is very important. You have to see face to face the potential applicant and their pet. Watch their car how clean is outside and inside and get an idea about how much that person care about personal staff.

My "good tenant" definition is: A good tenant is paying always on time, takes care of apartment, is friendly and comprehends "quiet enjoyment" words.

It is better for me to wait for the right applicant and do not rush to make a buck. Also, I discovered that the service to society, the humanity we share is coming after you take care of our business. Otherwise you will not be in this business for very long time.

Eleven Key Attributes of a Good Property Manager

Property Management is a career profession. The industry allows for employment growth, continual learning experiences, and the opportunity to work with diverse people and income groups. The Property Manager can work either directly for an owner of real estate properties, or for a property management company, contracted by an owner or legal entity to care for the real estate over a specific period of time.

The Property manager has a fiduciary relationship with the management company and property owner. A fiduciary relationship is one that is based on a mutual trust and complete confidence in one another.

The Property Manager is provided an owner's real estate portfolio to manage to its "highest and best use" in exchange for an employment contract or salary. Real estate assignments for the property manager includes apartment buildings, condominiums, hotels, storage facilities, shopping centers, office buildings, government subsidized properties, rooming houses, abandoned buildings and plots of vacant land, to name a few.

I have managed almost all of the above types of properties for over twenty years. I have managed public and private housing, for non-profit organizations, for the federal government, and for private developers and real estate investors. I also owned my own property management company for eight years. I now teach, speak, and write about property management standards and techniques. Here are some crucial skills, which I know from first hand experience, must be accepted as required attributes and learned skills in order to be a good property manager.

1. Must Know and Stay Current on Local Ordinances and State Laws

Managers are required to perform their work according to the laws of the land. The government (city, state, and federal) dictates how real estate is to be managed, from requiring a real estate license (depending on the state), to the use of the real estate (such as rent control laws). From proper trash removal to how and where we must keep security deposits, the manager has to keep abreast of the many legal requirements of managing real estate. If a mistake is made or a task is forgotten, it could cost the owner his or her property, and/or a management company's reputation, loss of the account, or even the loss of real estate licenses.

2. Must Be Highly Ethical and Honest

Property Managers work on the Honor Code when they handle other people's money. By collecting rent, security deposits, laundry machine money et al, the property manager holds a fiduciary relationship with the property owner and/or management company. The owner entrusts the property with thousands of dollars each month, plus the value of the real estate itself. The manager is hired to perform at his or her highest level of integrity. On a daily basis, the property manager's good judgment and sense of what is right and wrong is called into play.

3. Must be Detail Oriented and Organized

Managers collect the rent daily, and must ensure that each rent is paid and posted to the tenants' account as received. Financial records detailing each and every rent transaction are kept, either by rent cards, or on the computer. Lease expirations and renewals, rent increase letters, and rent invoices must be mailed on time. lines for court appearances must be kept, and clients must receive their written monthly report of operations. A skilled property manager is able to multi-task, keep site files organized, and prioritize repairs and assignments.

4. Must Have Good Communication Skills

Managers must be able to communicate with people from all walks of life, cultures, ethnicities, and personalities. Managers must be able to articulate their cases in front of judges, talk to the owner, negotiate with vendors as well as speak appropriately with tenants, who are often frustrated, upset, or angry. A good manager must be able to stay calm, and communicate in a professional manner. Familiarity speaking in other languages is always a plus.

5. Must have Good Computer Skills

Computer competency is a technical skill, like driving, typing, etc. The use of email, mail merge, and faxing through the computer is at the heart of property management today. This is especially true if the property is on one part of the city or state, and the home office is a distance away from the site. If a manager does not have a solid command of the computer and its basic programs, such as Microsoft Word and the spreadsheet Excel, you may be hard pressed to find an administrative position in this field.

6. Should Like Working with the Public

If everyone paid the rent on time by the fifth day of each month, the manager would not have rent collection work to do. If a property never had problems, such as toilet overflows, lost keys, or defective smoke detectors, a property manager would have little to do. Therefore, it is important that a manager enjoy dealing with people with problems. A manager should at least like helping tenants with dignity, and in a responsible manager. If you do not like being interrupted several times a day with a dilemma to solve, this type of job may not be for you.

7. Must Be Patient and Have a Sense of Humor

There is some pressure involved working with the public. There are days when nothing seems to go right, and if you happen to have a headache that day, it could be a long 9 to 5. A calm personality or a good sense of humor will take you a long way in property management. If you tend to be high-strung, anxious, or become angry or impatient while working with tight deadlines or with people with problems, you may want to re-consider taking on this profession.

8. Must Like to Read and Conduct Research

There are many types of leases, agreements, forms, and other legal documents that must be signed between tenants, the manager, government agencies, the site attorney, and/or the owner. Real estate and governmental regulations change; the manager must be willing to read up on them and stay current. Documentation must be read and checked before submitted to tenants, agencies, the owner, etc. If you do not like to read in order to keep up with the latest trends, legal and industry changes and terminology used, you will not be able to properly do your job.

9. Must Have a Strong Sense of Duty and Commitment

Ensuring that the tenants under your control are treated with respect, have heat and hot water, are not subjected to or committing illegal activities or disruptive behavior of their neighbors, are some of the managers' duties. Tenants depend on the manager's sense of obligation to the property and the families or professionals who live in it. The manager may not always have the funds to do everything all the time, but what can and should be done, such as keeping the building clean, and having a sense of urgency to get work completed in a timely manner.

10. Should be Flexible-Minded

Property Management is a fluid profession, in that it follows economic, governmental, industry, and societal changes that impacts how a property is managed. Managers who still like the "good old days" of mistreating tenants and making rental applicants jump through unnecessary hoops to get an apartment (or the opposite, by not checking anything), will find him or herself out of touch, and maybe out of a job. The ability to accept changes of law, obey fair housing laws, have a positive, or at least a neutral, attitude about people who are different, and above all, to be open-minded, is a key element of a successful manager.

11. Must Be an Excellent Follow-Up Person

A manager can never assume that a repair or rent payment plan will happen on its own. Our mantra is: "Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up!" This is one of the most critical skills of a good property manager. The ability to multi-task, keeping several balls in the air without dropping any of them is challenging, and difficult at times. The ability to successfully multi-task is often rewarded both financially and in promotion decisions.