Property managers are expected to do a lot. When they say they are busy, that’s almost certainly an understatement. From ensuring units are rented or sold, to creating a communication system for the condo or HOA, to collecting fees and payments, property managers take on multiple responsibilities to ensure their community is at its best.
Every property manager should have a system in place to help them successfully manage their property. A detailed checklist should be a part of that system.
Communities need property managers
Property management requires a lot of time and effort, and boards don’t often have enough time to run a property on their own. Instead, they look to qualified property managers to help them complete essential tasks. Though every property management company functions a little bit differently, most properties will expect companies to deliver the following services:
Attract and secure tenants. An unoccupied home means your client is losing money. Plus, potential buyers or tenants may become skeptical if they find out that there are a number of empty units available, making it harder to fill those empty units. A good property manager will understand how to attract and secure the best tenants, and that begins with marketing and advertising. Once they’ve found candidates that are a good fit, property managers should ensure candidates have not been evicted in the past. A background check can be conducted to help property managers make an informed decision.
Collect payments. Collecting payments in a timely manner is important to maintaining cash flow. You need to have a tried-and-true system in place to effectively collect rent or other payments. Property management software can assist with this tedious process. Residents can make payments online, which means property managers don’t have to collect and process so many cheques.
Maintain the property. The appearance of your client’s property is a reflection of your abilities as a property manager. Yes, things will break and damage does occur, but it’s your job to ensure regular maintenance is scheduled and performed. Furthermore, many property managers are expected to ensure residents follow the condo’s or HOA’s rules and bylaws, and follow up with residents who do break those rules to make sure they do not continue with disruptive or harmful behaviour.
Build the community. You’re not just running a community, you’re making it better for the people who live within it. Experienced property managers understand how to facilitate communication between residents, board members, and anyone else who has a stake in the community.
Maximize efficiencies, minimize costs. Ultimately, HOAs and condos hire property managers because they want to increase efficiencies within their community while minimizing the costs that come with managing a community. This could mean streamlining service requests, securing a vendor who charges less, or even reducing money spent on printing and mailing documents.
What to include in your checklist
Your checklist should help you achieve the major tasks that you are responsible for by breaking them down into smaller steps. The list below should give you an idea of what to include in your property management checklist.
- Where to advertise
- Social media
- High and low prices
Attracting new residents
- Set open house date if necessary
- Create document with rental standards
- Develop a set of questions to ask all prospective tenants
- Create application
- Collect fee to cover processing costs
- Complete credit, criminal and background checks
- Get references from previous landlords
- Arrange move-in date
- Establish process for communicating with tenants
- Establish process for service requests, complaints
- Create a system for moving in/moving out
- Complete walkthrough of property
- Schedule regular maintenance repairs
- Establish process for addressing violations
Collecting fees and payments
- Create system for issuing/collecting payments
- Create system for returning deposits
Work smarter, not harder
A checklist is an excellent tool to have. It can help property managers get a clearer understanding of what their big tasks are, and what steps need to be completed in order to achieve their goals. Checklists can be created and updated online as well, which means they can be edited and revised as needed. You can even share this list with your team or your client if necessary.
However, a checklist can only do so much. To ensure success, property managers need to create a comprehensive system that helps them complete the tasks on their checklist. In other words, they need a strategy that will help them tackle the “how” as well as the “what”.
Create files. You should have separate folders for finances, repairs, tenants, rules and regulations, communications, etc. Being organized is essential. Instead of spending time searching through stacks of papers, you can locate the item you need within a file and move on with your day. It’s recommended that you create a separate folder for each unit or home within the property. Ideally, you will store all documents, including mortgage records, property tax records, insurance documentation, copies of rent payments, expense records, and more, that relate to the property in the corresponding folder.
Standardize processes. There are several tasks that tend to be repetitive in your day-to-day operations. Therefore, property managers should set up standardized processes for routine things to save time and make sure everyone knows what to do and expect when these reoccurring items need to be taken care of. Create a database that contains important documents such as templates and forms and have a procedure in place for processing and documenting requests or issues.
Use technology. Several property managers prefer using property management software because it helps them stay organized, and allows them to perform some of their duties from their office or even from their phone. Property managers can send important messages to board members, individuals, or their entire community, and they can store all of those files they made online. Technology can reduce the money spent on print costs, and it helps the environment, too.
Schedule your time. You may have a plan to accomplish three or four things from your checklist in a day, but if you don’t budget your time, you could easily spend all day looking for new tenants or taking care of service requests. Use a calendar or planner and allocate a specific amount of time to a certain task. When you put it on your calendar, you don’t have to constantly worry about what’s coming up next.
Additional tips to help you manage your property
- Make use of social media. The more people who see your ad, the more prospects you’ll attract. Social media can be a cost-effective advertising platform, and it’s relatively easy to set up ads on your own. You can even target a specific audience.
- Use high-quality photos when advertising your property online. If you’re taking the photos yourself, try to use a camera as opposed to your smartphone. Nicer photos can attract more selective renters or buyers.
- Highlight what makes your property great. Give tenants a good reason to pick your property. Make sure your ads are short but informative. Would you come to your property if you saw the ad you’re presenting?
- Make property rules and processes clear from the beginning. Be it rent collection, warning letters for violations, or pet restrictions, make sure expectations are clear to new and current residents. When the community understands what is expected of them, they are much less likely to commit violations or do things that harm the community.
- Stay on top of repairs. Take proactive measures to maintain elevators, doors, gym equipment, etc. A well-maintained property means its value will remain high, and it’s much more expensive to pay for something that has broken down than pay for a small repair.
- Last but not least, get to know your community. This is something that will take time, but it’s well worth the investment. When your residents feel comfortable talking to you, they are more likely to voice concerns, and share ideas. It’s much easier to manage a community when residents want to be actively involved.
Download our free property management checklist template