Metro - 25 April 2014
Choosing a property management company
By Jo Eccles
If you’re a landlord and thinking of appointing someone to manage your property on your behalf, make sure you do your due diligence.
You can either appoint an estate agent to manage your property, or an independent management company. Whichever you opt for, make sure you read the small print when signing their terms. Check whether they charge a mark-up on any contractor fees, or charge for organising repairs or maintenance. This should be covered within their annual management fee, and they certainly shouldn’t be adding a ‘handling fee’ on top of any tradesmen. Also, ask how they select their tradesmen – some companies will call the most expensive plumbers to resolve a very straight forward problem within hours. You really want to use a company who has a great ‘black book’ of suppliers and tradesmen and, if they manage a lot of properties and have a good relationship with their contractors, they may even be able to negotiate discounts on any works carried out.
Another thing to look out for is what happens if you sell the property. Some management companies and estate agents have clauses in their contracts stating that if you sell the property with the tenant in place, you are still liable for their property management fees, even though you’ve cut all ties with the property. A good property management company should be representing your best interests at all times. This means you should expect them to fight your corner when negotiating with a tenant, striving to achieve the best terms for you. They can also be worth their weight in gold if any issues crop up with your tenant or the property itself, which does happen. This is particularly the case if complex tenancy law issues come into play. Often some of the biggest landlord tenant disputes stem from a lack of communication or tenancy terms which could have been more favourably agreed.
So, if you are going to get a professional on board, make sure you choose wisely as it can pay for itself in the long run, not only in monetary savings, but also keeping a tenant happy and keeping them in place for longer.