Tenant Checklist when Choosing a Property Management Company
You have been asking and we have been listening. What should you look for in a property manager as an incoming tenant? Here are the top 7 factors you, as a tenant, should review when choosing a property management company….
PRICE. You should expect the price of a rental home to be competitive with other homes on the market. That is how any smart property management company will run their business, but price is not always about rent. What about miscellaneous fees associated with applications, administration and pets? The industry standards differ depending on the quality, type of property and location of the property and management company. We looked across the board and in the greater Denver area, the average application fee is $65, the typical pet costs are $250 deposit and $40 pet rent per month and many companies will also charge you a $100 – $150 administration fee to ‘get you in the system’. Here at TJC, we charge only a $45 application fee, $250 pet fee per pet and a one time $250 pet deposit for all pets. No pet rent which means when you renew your lease, you don’t pay extra fees or deposits for the extra months your pet is living in the home. And the only time we charge an administration fee is when we have to add a pet or roommate at a later date.
LEASE BREAK POLICY. Life happens! You get a job transfer, want to buy your dream home or are welcoming a new grandbaby – 1,000 miles away. BUT not all landlords are flexible in life’s ups and downs, twists and turns. It is fairly standard for private landlords to create a lease that favors the owner and therefore the terms are more strict and miscellaneous fees are more likely to have been added. We also find it common for tenants to just skim a lease before signing, though we highly recommend a thorough read as it could save you money and grief in the long run. TJC is smaller than the corporate apartment world, but more experience than the private landlord and we have a great company culture that acknowledges life happens. Our lease break policy is a win-win for the tenant and the property owner! We offer a 60 day notice lease-break option with a 1 month’s rent leasing fee if notice is received January – September. Notice given October – December are subject to a 1 month rent leasing fee and you would be responsible for the lease until February 28th unless we find a new tenant sooner. Either way, you aren’t stuck until your original lease ends!
SECURITY DEPOSIT. This should be pretty straight forward. There are two most common industry standards: For apartment communities, the fee is usually between $500 to $1000 no matter the monthly rent. For property owners and small property management companies, it is normal for the security deposit to equal one month’s rent. TJC, of course, falls into the latter category. There are pros and cons to both. Of course the upside to a smaller deposit is obvious, less money out of pocket up front. The downside to the apartment industry standard of a smaller deposit is the consequences that follow if you cause enough damage to surpass that small deposit upon move out. You will likely have to pay the remaining balance within 30 days of moving out or risk it going to collections and damaging your credit.
MAINTENANCE. Make sure when renting a property, that you have easy access to reporting maintenance needs. If it is a tedious process, then it is possible that you may procrastinate which can lead to more serious problems later for which you could be charged. When TJC creates any process, we always look at it from the tenant’s perspective and add the level of ease that makes every process as painless as possible.
QUALITY. You get what you pay for. In the rental world, this is a very biased statement depending on who you talk to. It is important to not just listen to the prices, but also to listen to the level of competency coming from your leasing agent. A well trained employee, goes along way in understanding the level of commitment a landlord puts into their business. Is it a private owner? Then an owner willing to answer all your questions without hesitation is a good sign. Next you will want to look around in all niches and around all corners. How well are the grounds and the interior of the unit kept? Do you see quality work or Bandaids®? If it is the latter, run, run, run away.
CUSTOMER SERVICE. You need to be heard. Make sure you have easy access to a human, not just a computer, to ensure all your concerns are properly addressed in a timely manner. Did the process of viewing the property run smoothly? That should give you great insight of what to expect for the long term experience.
REVIEWS and RATINGS. It’s not common for someone to have an average experience and leave a review unless they were coerced to do so. The typical review is left by those blown away by their experience with a company or completely outraged and needing to vent. The latter can also be a move to hopefully get the company to see their point of view and possibly change a big decision in the customer’s favor. The downside to reviews, is that they are completely one-sided and may or may not be legit. The upsides of reviews, is that it helps prospective customers have privvy insight as well as assist the company learn from their hard work and mistakes. But the big picture on reviews, is that if they have a majority of good ratings, then they must be doing something right. It is not easy to get good ratings in the property management world. TJC is fortunate to have had enough successes and clients that want to scream it from the mountain tops to make a difference. For that, we are grateful.
All in all, make sure you have a good balance of quality living space as well as a competent management team and listen to your intuition when it’s all said and done. Only you know what you will be able to tolerate and the level of service you expect. Though TJC is currently only in the Greater Denver Area, finding a property management company with quality standards and a high level of customer service is important to find wherever you call home.
Brought to you by Sondra Lockett-Cameron, Marketing Coordinator for TJC Real Estate and Management Services.