A tenant calling about a blocked toilet at 9pm on a Friday can either be a quick way to ruin a landlords weekend, or a minor hiccup that gets solved smoothly.
Property managers have access to tried and tested tradies at reasonable rates. Photo: Paul Bradbury
If youre among the 75 per cent of landlords who use a property manager, they will arrange an emergency plumber to fix the issue without you having to lift a finger.
But if youre part of the remaining 25 per cent who take a DIY approach, youre in for an evening of wrangling tenants and tradies and figuring out who foots the bill.
A property manager does more than just advertise for tenants, and these are some of the ways they can make a landlords life easier.
Property managers have access to tenancy databases, helping them sort good tenants from bad. Photo: Craig Sillitoe
1. Making maintenance a no-brainer
The above scenario occurs every week in real estate agencies across the country, and a similar scene played out at Gunning Real Estate last week but with a further twist to the tale.
We found out that the reason for the blockage was that foreign matters had been put down the toilet, says principal and REIA president Malcolm Gunning. This then becomes the tenants problem and the tenants cost.
Gunning speculates that if you were managing the property yourself, you would likely be in for a one-on-one confrontation with your tenant.
Instead, your property manager becomes the adjudicator and they can have those difficult conversations, he says. They can navigate the expectations of both the landlord and the tenant and apply the lease conditions fairly.
2. Taking control of tricky conversations
Carolyn Parrella, executive manager for landlord insurance specialist Terri Scheer Insurance, says its advantageous to have a buffer between landlords and tenants.
It means youve got someone whos there to take calls when your hot water service breaks down at 8pm, she says. Its less personal, and keeps you at arms length. Its also a time issue it can be quite time-consuming to arrange maintenance and inspections. If you want to manage your property well, it makes sense to appoint a manager to do it for you.
3. Hiring top tradies
Having a relationship with good tradies is also key to smooth and timely repairs.
Weve got a group of tradies that have worked with us for many years, says Gunning. We know theyre reliable and will do a good job and wont need to be called back. The property manager is aiming for quality service for a reasonable cost.
Instead of paying premium landlord prices, director of Property Alchemy Penelope Valentine says good property managers will always get at least two quotes.
The policy should be to work with the best professionals, making sure everyone is licensed and insured.
4. Staying across rights and regulations
Valentine believes its a false economy to try and manage your investment property yourself.
Lets say your tenant damages your property. If you dont have the expertise to manage those issues, they can escalate unnecessarily and landlords will find themselves at the tribunal, she says. A property manager can save an investor time and money.
Parrella says a professional manager knows the fine details of the regulations that govern tenancy agreements and are also required to keep up with regulation changes via newsletters, advice bulletins and training.
The average investor is not going to know the ins and outs of the law, she says. Its better to leave it to someone who is familiar with the processes and understands whats involved.
Gunning agrees that navigating the tenancy act when problems arise is where a professionals skills come to the fore.
5. Choosing choice tenants
Of course, choosing the right tenant in the first place is paramount to setting up the tenancy for success, says Valentine.
Its more involved than investors think. You can go on a gut feeling but theres so much due diligence that needs to go around that.
Parrella says property managers have access to tenancy databases which allow them to avoid tenants with a bad rental history that might include breaking a lease, failing to pay rent or damaging a property.
They are also likely to keep their own database of prospective tenants for the area they service.
Each Saturday, if youve got a reasonably large portfolio, youre doing open homes and youve got a list of people that come through looking to rent, says Gunning. So when you get a new listing you can make a call and lease it quickly you may not even need to do marketing.
6. Understanding market movements
Gunning says your property manager is also your barometer for the state of the market.
Theyre exposed to the whole of the market in their district, so theyve got a pretty clear indication of rates and can advise when rents should hold, go up or go down, he says.
In this current market where youve got vacancies above 2 per cent, you need a good gauge on what will lease your property. Your property manager can help you set the right rent and show you how to present your property well.