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How to hire a property manager that will keep you out of trouble

There are plenty of property managers for hire out there who can handle the day-to-day issues that come with owning rental property and dealing with tenants. However, finding a good one can take a little digging.

When you're on the search for a trustworthy, reliable and canny property manager, here are some tips you can use:

1. Note the applicant's communication style.

Pay close attention to how the person you're thinking of hiring communicates -- especially via electronic means. Much of your communication with a property manager, these days, is likely to be electronic. Make sure that emails or texts are coherent, complete and easy to understand. Also pay keen attention to response times when you reach out to them. If someone keeps you waiting well past a reasonable time now, you can only expect that to continue if you hire them.

2. Ask plenty of questions.

You naturally want to ask about a prospective property manager's background, qualifications and experience. More important, however, might be the answers to some of the following questions:

  • How would you approach a tenant about a noise complaint or some other issue?
  • How would you handle an issue with unpaid rent?
  • How do you expect to handle requests for maintenance?
  • What process do you use when you screen new tenants?

You want a property manager who demonstrates a clear understanding of your rights and obligations as a landlord -- and the tenant's rights and obligations. A property manager who doesn't have a firm grasp on those issues can end up leading you straight into a legal dispute with your tenants that could turn costly.

3. Pay attention to first impressions.

When you actually meet a prospective property manager, remember that first impressions really do matter quite a bit in this world. Does this person strike you as generally amiable? Responsible? Honest? Able to communicate well with a variety of different people? Think about the impression this person might make on your tenants.

Once you've hired a property manager, work closely with your legal counsel to make sure that your real estate leases, whether residential or commercial, are clear, comprehensive and enforceable.

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