A bad property management company can be a nightmare. Horror stories include tenants that can't be evicted (squatters), thousands in owed rent, and improper property maintenance that can cause extensive damage to multiple units.
A bad property management company can keep you, the property owner, in the dark until a problem reaches extreme levels, such as water and mold damage and pest infestations that may require tenant removal to fix. Incompetent property managers may cause legal problems including missed inspections and reports and ignored tenant complaints that can also conflict with local landlord-tenant law.
The best defense against a predatory property management company is to understand how to recognize a good company.
What a Good Property Manager Won't Do
A good property manager should make you feel safe in your investment, gaining the trust that your building and your tenants are in good hands. What may be more important is what a good management company won't do. Here are some signs to be aware of:
Good companies don’t disappear on you. They’re attentive and communicative to both you and your tenants, keeping you in the loop on what’s going on in your real estate. A good company won't leave you hanging with unreturned phone calls or emails and office hours will be clear, not ambiguous or sporadic.
Good companies don’t neglect routine inspections on your residential property. Routine inspections catch maintenance issues and repairs before they become super expensive, like roof leaks and water leaks. Additional inspections including pest control and hazardous materials can help keep tenants safe. California state and local laws also require fire inspections, usually conducted yearly by fire department personnel, these inspections are the number one way to prevent structure fires, protecting both your residential property and inhabitants. Whether you're in Pacific Beach or El Cajon, your San Diego property is important and should be maintained with the utmost care.
Good companies don't ignore tenant rights. While a property management company is a direct representative of the landlord and property owner, that doesn't mean tenant rights should be ignored. San Diego renters have specific rights to maintenance as well as privacy, and ignoring or neglecting these laws could create legal problems for any investment property owner.
Good companies don’t choose bad tenants. Good companies don't rely on a sixth sense or a gut feeling to find renters. They know how to handle every aspect of the rental process, from advertising to background checks to choosing a prospective tenant with a reliable history and income so you have the best possible tenant living in your rental property.
Good companies don't use blanket policies from out of town. The distinct character of the greater San Diego area is what makes it such a desirable place to live. That's why local area knowledge matters in your property management company. Good companies won't try to use techniques that work in New York City on a property in San Diego, instead of using their knowledge of the area to help understand issues like parking, severe weather, and even local area building codes.
Good companies don’t just collect the rent. They handle tenant maintenance requests, enforce the terms of the lease (including eviction, if necessary), and are the “face” of your real estate. A responsible property manager won't skip a move-in or move-out inspection, instead verifying property conditions with a tenant at the initiation and termination of a lease.
Good companies don’t charge exorbitant fees. There's really no explanation needed here. A good company will charge you fair rates for the work that needs to be done, and won't "nickel and dime you" for minor issues to increase the bill.
Avoid a bad property management company at all cost. Read the fine print in any contract, and check reviews with sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. For quality property management in the San Diego area, contact the local experts at Property Advantage. If you're looking for a San Diego property management company, Property Advantage can help you with your San Diego county real estate.