Managing a multi-family apartment complex can be a full-time job, and it may even require an entire team of people to do it, depending on the number of managed properties in the property, as well as the size and number of shared amenities.
Property management involves many tasks across a wide variety of disciplines, and the job calls for a person with great interpersonal skills, attention to detail, good organization systems, and command of software; along with knowledge of local law and real estate market, a good network of trade contacts, and much more. The job is difficult, but it is well paid and rewarding – and a good property manager may increase a property owner’s profit significantly, thus becoming a good investment themselves.
Let’s get started by going over the responsibilities and tasks a property manager has to fulfill when overseeing an apartment complex.
A good property manager looks after all aspects of an apartment building, from maintenance to collecting payments. They can roughly be divided into groups:
Marketing and renting
Rental Collection and Renter’s relationships
Maintenance and repairs
Administrative and reports
Let’s go over them in some detail.
The very first thing a good property manager should do with an apartment complex is to determine the ideal rent to ask for. An owner may want to charge so much that the apartments will remain empty, or they might be shortchanging themselves and asking for less than market price. A knowledgeable property manager has knowledge of the local market, and the right tools to set the rental rate at the ideal point for maximum profitability and rentability.
Once this is done, the property manager should stage the property and have it photographed professionally, before listing it in all the appropriate places. They should have systems in place to attract potential renters and field their inquiries in a timely fashion, as well as show the available properties and fill them with quality tenants.
If the building is already in use, the property manager should get referrals from current tenants and use them to attract more prospects.
Prospective tenants must be screened carefully before signing the contract, and this is another job of the property manager. There are many professional systems to verify a tenant’s past, including evictions and relevant records. A good property manager will exercise caution and screen potential tenants in detail.
Drafting contracts is a tedious and delicate job, and one best left to professionals such as a property manager. An apartment complex property manager has experience in rental law and has contract templates which they adjust for each tenant.
The property manager will negotiate the monthly rent, encourage new tenants with appropriate offers and strategies, collect the security deposit, and onboard tenants when they move in, getting them acquainted with the building rules and regulations.
And finally, it is the job of the property manager to stay on top of contracts about to expire, renegotiate rates, and renew leases when appropriate.
Every building owner wants their tenants to pay in time, be safe and happy, get along with their neighbors, and follow the rules. This, however, is not often the case.
The property manager should have the training, skills, and experience to collect rent (and late fines, if necessary) without alienating tenants. If building policies are not followed, the property manager should deal with the misbehaving tenants and levy fines or even go ahead with an eviction process if the violation is severe enough.
One of the main reasons many property owners hire a property manager is because they don’t want to deal with emergency repair calls in the middle of the night. A professional property manager will have teams and systems in place to deal with both emergencies and routine maintenance issues, and will communicate with the residents so they feel safe and looked after.
Depending on the size of your apartment building, the property manager may be able to take care of some maintenance or may have to outsource it to trusted vendors.
The property manager will handle all tenant issues and complaints, and make sure they are fixed quickly and to satisfaction. This ensures longer tenancies and better reviews, which in turn help raise rent prices for future tenants.
An effective way to identify a good property manager is to ask them about preventative maintenance. A good property manager knows that regular checkups save a lot of time and money in repairs in the long run, and will have a system and a plan for making sure all of the building’s mechanical systems, as well as the exteriors and the building itself, are checked and maintained regularly, to prevent expensive and complicated repairs that could have been prevented.
Some of the professionals or teams which may be necessary to keep an apartment building running smoothly are:
Cleaners (Pool, window, etc)
Gardeners and Landscapers
The property manager will liaise with all of them, pay the bills, and keep records of all preventative maintenance, repairs, and emergencies.
Since a property manager handles collections and payments on behalf of the owner, they must also submit reports with the frequency and detail that the owner requires. Some examples of these reports include:
Income and expense statement
Tenant payment report
Additionally, a property manager should prepare an annual budget and submit it to the owner for approval, including major repairs, renovations, and proposed enhancements for the property.
Being a property manager is not a simple job, and this is why most job sites list a series of qualifications and requirements for the position. Depending on the size of the property and the responsibilities included, a property manager for an apartment complex should be expected to fulfill the following requirements:
A Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is usually required, although a highs school diploma might be OK if there is enough relevant experience.
3-5 years of experience working in real estate is desired
1-3 years of management experience a plus is also good
Professional certifications or licenses from organizations such as:
The Community Associations Institute
The Institute of Real Estate Management
The National Apartment Association
The National Association of Residential Property Managers
In most cases, a good track record of profitably running apartment complexes or other types of investment real estate is a must.