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When to NOT Use a Property Management Company

October 3, 2016 / by Brent Silberbauer

DIY_letters_and_toolsAs a full-time sales representative for a property management company, I talk with property owners all day long. Our company, Hignell Property Management, manages over 1,500 residential units, so we’ve seen it all. Whether they’re first time rental property owners looking for some advice or seasoned veterans with multiple commercial and residential units, all come across my desk. In my experience there are people who benefit tremendously from a professional property management service, and those that simply don’t. So, which one are you? 

Previously, I wrote an article on the types of people who benefit from using a property management company here. But this list will be solely based on the type of person who will not benefit from utilizing a property management company. They are the proverbial water to the property management oil. They just don’t mix.  If you resonate with this list, then I hope to give you the confidence to bravely step into the property management frontier on your own because after all, you have what it takes.

You probably don’t need help from a property management company if:

You have ample amounts of free time

The basic truth is that property management takes time. Things break, renters move out, and maintenance projects need overseeing. If you’re going to manage your own property, then you need to make sure you have the time in your schedule to dedicate to the task.

Sure, there are times when things will be running smoothly and you’ll be free to enjoy your nights, weekends, and vacations without a worry in the world. However, there will be seasons where the smooth sailing is interrupted by a pipe bursting or a vacancy that quickly needs to be filled, and you’ll need to have the time available to handle the situation. If you’re already living with a full schedule, it’s these stormy seasons that can truly test your limits. If the time margin isn’t already built into your schedule these issues can seem all consuming and can spill into your perosnal and professional life.  

You see fixing things as a hobby

I have a friend who owns three four-plexes right next to each other. He’s one of those strange people that actually gets excited when something breaks so he can go and fix it. For my company to take over management, to him, it would seem like paying someone to play on his softball team while he sits on the bench. It makes no sense. He works 30 hours a week, and the rest of the 10 to 15 hours a week he spends tending to the property – and he enjoys every minute of it.

You’re a control freak

This is a pet peeve of mine. If you’re a control freak (and you know who you are) please don’t use a property management company. Typically, in our company contract, we immediately take care of any repairs under $300 and bill the owners. We know what handymen charge, and who does the best work for the best price for minor issues. Anything above $300 we’ll get multiple bids from multiple companies and discuss the issue in detail with the owner, allowing them to make the final decision. Occasionally, we encounter the control freak owner who wants a zero dollar outlay and four different bids from four different companies to fix a running toilet or leaky faucet. If that sounds like you, by all means, do not hire a property management company.

You understand rental laws

This is a big one. I live in California. The renter’s rights here are strict and you need to know what you’re doing. I’ve had owners who have wound up in court for months, paying thousands of dollars in legal fees, not because they were malicious, but because they didn’t know the law and were caught off guard. Being well-versed in the laws surrounding property management is a must if you’re going to manage your own property.   

You have quick access to your rental property

Is it easy for you to visit your property and check the landscaping and exterior on a regular basis? If so, then you’re in a good spot. How a tenant treats the exterior property says alot. Tenants who let the lawn die quickly or park “creatively” on your property (on the lawn or obstructing a sidewalk) tells you a lot about who they are. Also, in emergency situations you’re going to need to be able to assess the situation quickly. The proximity of the property to your location will play a big factor in managing the property well. 

You can handle urgent situations well

Let’s say a resident in the upstairs unit accidentally left a sink running all night. Overnight the unit gets completely flooded, along with the unit below and adjacent. All three tenants call you in the morning with the news. What do you do? 

Does that situation seem overwhelming to you, or will you be able to calmly think through the next steps to take at that moment? Some people shine in urgent and important situations like this, others, not so much. If you’re the former, you got this; if you’re the latter, you might want to think about hiring a property manager.

So, what type of owner are you?

When you work for a company managing 1,500 units, situations like these are not uncommon for us to come across (that previous example is a true story!). Stuff happens, and if the skillset to handle these types of situations is in your wheelhouse, then you’re the type of person who doesn’t need a property management company. 

However, if this list sounds like the opposite of who you are, then please, do yourself a favor and contact us at Hignell Property Management to learn more about our property management services.

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Topics: Residential Property Management