Questions & Answers:

Comparing Property Managers

5 May 22

Ballincastle Property Services Portfolio Image: Comparing Property Managers. Are you the property manager who’ll be looking after my property? And if not, who will be?
Sometimes, a business development manager or company owner will facilitate the initial discussions with you about managing your property. When you meet with them, you want to make sure that you know exactly who will be looking after your property and to arrange to meet with, or learn more about, that person prior to committing to the property management firm.

The other question associated with this one is: ‘How long have you/they been with the company?’

You should be looking for a property manager that has demonstrated longevity in their role which proves that this is a career for them. Due to the stresses of property management, staff turnover is high – you want to try to ensure that you will be talking to the same person in six months’ time.

Be sure to ask the property manager the following questions:

How many years have you been working in property management?
How many years have you been with your current firm?
How can you demonstrate your knowledge of the current rental market in my area?
Are you licensed by the PSRA?

How many properties do you personally (as well as the company) currently manage?

Naturally you will want to go with an agency that has a reputation for being great property managers. But you need to ensure that they are not too overloaded to look after your property carefully.

Generally, you don’t want your property manager to be currently looking after more than about 100 properties. If the agency has 400 properties on their rent roll, they should ideally have three or four property managers to cover these.

How many residents on your books are currently in-service charge arrears and what action do you take if an owner is behind?

The managing agent should outline the company policy for ensuring that all apartment owners contribute to the service charge. The agent should outline the company policy for ensuring that all outstanding charges will be paid.

Do they enforce late fees?

Your property manager should also provide you with a clear outline of their policy for what happens when an apartment owner falls into arrears.

How many inspections do you carry out per year?
Ask what sort of report you will receive and whether there is an additional cost or if it is built into your management fee.

Start by asking these questions:

Will you provide me with property inspection reports?
What other forms of communication can I expect from you? Will I receive: Monthly statements? Email updates? General market information? Maintenance issues? Rent reviews? Lease renewals? Warning about when tenants are vacating.

What is the full cost of management? Please detail all possible costs and fees, and indicate whether these fees include VAT?

Unlike the fees associated with property, there are many ongoing fees that are presented when appointing a property manager. The three basic upfront fees you will incur are:

A Management fee
A Letting fee
An Administration fee (usually a monthly fee for administration)
Company Secretarial Fee

Ask the Agency what the management fee includes, as it will often include inspections, reports and organisation of maintenance quotes – and remember that these fees are always negotiable.

How can you ensure the best returns from my property? And what else can you do that another property manager can’t?

Property management is not just about collecting service charge payments: it is a comprehensive management service which should be provided by a trained property manager. You want to find out what differentiates this property manager from his/her competition and what his/her strengths are.

Dispute Resolution for your property problem.

If you are having issues with a neighbour who is a tenant, you can apply for dispute resolution as a third party. All parties involved should initially try to resolve the matter directly themselves.

A landlord owes to each person who could be affected (for example by antisocial behaviour) a duty to enforce the responsibilities of the tenant(s) in the tenancy. In cases where a landlord fails to enforce a tenant’s responsibilities, a person directly and adversely affected may take a case against the landlord through the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

The case will be heard by an independent RTB adjudicator, who can direct the landlord to enforce their tenants’ responsibilities. In the interest of fairness, tenants will be party to a third-party case. This means they will be copied on information relating to the case and can attend a hearing. Landlords can also be ordered to make substantial payments to affected parties for the distress caused by their failure to enforce their tenants’ responsibilities. Please note that third party issues in relation to the standard and maintenance of a rental dwelling are a matter for local authority enforcement and the RTB does not have jurisdiction to deal with such complaints. It should also be noted that in order to provide a fair and neutral service to all parties, the RTB are unable to provide legal advice or specific guidance to either party in relation to their dispute. Third parties are those who are directly and adversely affected by neighboring tenants and have the right to bring a case against the landlord of those tenants.

Renewing the Managing Agency Agreement

Prior to commencement, the length of an appointment should be agreed and clearly detailed within the Property Management Agreement, together with any process for renewal, review of fees and termination.

A termination of a Property Management Agreement should be done in accordance with thetermination provisions of the management agreement.

Accounting for client’s monies and service charge funds upon termination can be an area of dispute between Property Managers and their former clients. Your terms of engagement should give clear provision for how and when client’s monies and uncommitted service charge monies are to be calculated and handed over to your client or their appointed agents.