Property Management: DIY or Hire?

What is property management?

Property management is the maintenance and oversight of residential and commercial rental spaces. Professionals who work in this industry are known as property managers, often working for larger property management companies.

What does a property manager do?

Rental spaces require plenty of attention and upkeep, so property managers perform many tasks such as:
  • Screening and selecting tenants
  • Ensuring the rental space is occupied
  • Collecting rent and handling late rent payments
  • Complying with local building and housing codes
  • Dealing with tenant requests (such as repair requests)
  • Staying informed on landlord-tenant laws

Do property managers have to be certified?

Depending on where you live, legislation may require property management companies and property managers to have some type of credential to oversee a rental property. In most states, management companies must be licensed real estate brokers and managers must work under a real estate sales or property management license.
Check your state-specific qualifications for property managers and management companies.

What is property management software?

Property management software is any type of online program, website, or platform that helps landlords and property managers organize documents and keep records. You can use your LawDepot account to store and manage your documents.
It’s important to keep a paper and digital copy of your rental records, such as leases and tenant notices, in case you have to prove your past actions during a tenant dispute.
For example, you may have a problematic tenant who breaks their lease terms, so you serve them a Warning Notice. If the problem persists and you try to evict them, they could claim that you never gave them proper notice. Prove your past actions by having a complete record of all the documents you serve to your tenants.
Depending on the rental property management software, users may also be able to communicate with tenants, schedule reminders, and track payments.

What are my options for property management?

If you own a property, you can manage it yourself or hire a property management company. You may find it doable to oversee a singular property in your spare time. However, overseeing two or more properties often becomes a larger time commitment.
By managing your property on your own, you can avoid the costs of hiring a property management company. However, if you work full-time, own many properties, or don’t have the time or interest to manage your rental spaces, you may choose to hire help.

How do I manage a rental property by myself?

If you choose to manage your own rental space, you can use LawDepot’s documents to navigate the property management process. In addition to creating the necessary documents, you must be diligent in how you store and manage them. Having a paper trail of your rental documents helps during a legal dispute. For a complete guide to property management, check out our First-Time Landlord’s Guide to Renting.

1. Find a tenant

After preparing your rental space and ensuring that it meets your local housing and building codes, you can start searching for a tenant. Use a Residential Rental Application form or Commercial Rental Application form to properly vet applicants and complete a reference check before offering your space to your new renter.

2. Complete a walkthrough

Once you select your new tenant, complete a Rental Inspection Report with them before they take possession of your rental space. A move-in inspection creates a record of the rental space’s condition before the tenant moves in. At the end of their tenancy, perform another inspection. You can cross-reference the move-in inspection to determine if you’ll return their damage deposit.
It’s important to have a complete record of your Rental Inspections in case you have a legal dispute with a renter regarding the cause of damage in your rental property.

3. Create a lease agreement

You must create a Residential Lease Agreement or Commercial Lease Agreement with your new tenant. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy.
A lease agreement is essential because it creates both a binding contract and a formal record of both parties’ rights and obligations during the tenancy.

4. Maintain your property

Rental properties are great for earning a passive income. However, it takes time and money to maintain the property and interact with your tenant. If your property remains free of issues and your renter consistently fulfills their lease obligations, you may not have to actively manage your property.
However, if you encounter problems during a renter’s tenancy, you may have to serve them a Lease Notice.

5. Keep a record of your documents

Use property management software for landlords to store your rental documents. By creating your account and documents with LawDepot, you can easily store your documents in a secure place. Use the My Documents section of your LawDepot account to sort your rental documents into folders by tenant, date, and type of document.
Other online management systems have capabilities such as tracking leases, prioritizing maintenance tasks, and managing finances. There are plenty of other residential and commercial property management software options available, such as:

Should I hire a property manager?

Considering the time and attention that rental spaces and tenants require, you may find that the benefits of hiring a property manager outweigh the financial perks of managing yourself.
Property managers specialize in overseeing rental spaces and can succeed in:
  • Advertising your rental
  • Screening for reliable, long-term tenants
  • Dealing with tenant concerns
  • Coordinating maintenance and repairs
  • Ensuring tenants pay rent on time
  • Keeping a record of rental documents
Often, property management companies have maintenance and repair staff. So, instead of having to find a tradesperson yourself, your property manager coordinates a repair with their resources.
Some property management companies include repairs in your monthly fees, so you don’t have to pay anything extra when a problem arises. Review what services your monthly property management fees cover so you can take advantage of everything available to you.
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