A property manager's job is very ambiguous, as they seem to have their hands in everything from finding tenants to handling your books.
But property management repairs and maintenance take the cake. Property maintenance and the management of repairs is a facet of investment property management that can stretch a property manager.
A property manager's responsibilities list is long, and In addition to having a keen real estate business acumen, confidence, strategic thinking, planning, communication, and negotiation they must ensure a smooth sailing property maintenance experience.
So we’ve created this guide to better illustrate the exact duties and responsibilities of a property manager when it comes to property management and maintenance, and how to identify when it’s time to switch to a new property manager when they aren’t getting the job done right.
What are property managers responsible for?
Property managers can seem like Jacks of all trades, with their hands busy in every aspect of property management. So, before we get into the maintenance side of things here's a refresher list on just what property managers are responsible for:
- Finding tenants
- Screening tenants
- Collecting rent
- Chasing arrears
- Property maintenance
- Handling repairs
- Preparing you for taxes
Property Maintenance Responsibilities From A-Z
Property management and maintenance go together like cream and scones but it’s not easy.
It requires attention, diligence, and constantly follow up. It’s probably one of the reasons that 80% of Australian landlords enlist the help of a property manager. If you have a property manager looking after your property, it’s part of their duty and responsibility to stay on top of maintenance management and repairs.
- Routine inspections
- Regular property maintenance
- Communicating with tenants
- Sorting out maintenance/repair requests
- Liaising with tradespeople
- Assistance with tax preparation
In addition to streamlining maintenance and repairs, a good property manager will keep you in the loop regarding what your investment property income tax deductions entitlements are which will save you a lot on property tax consultants.
Routine and regular maintenance
Regular maintenance ensures that you and your property manager have a constant gauge of how the property is doing and when it will need TLC. That way, you’re less likely to run into unexpected hurdles and hefty repair bills.
A good property manager stays on top of routine property maintenance by:
Planning ahead: planning activities include scheduling indoor and outdoor maintenance like pest control maintenance in advance and assessing depreciation and the shelf life of appliances
Preparing condition reports: condition reports tell you if damage in your property is regular wear and tear or if a tenant has been careless
Conducting timely inspections: inspecting your property routinely will allow you to plan ahead and assess when your property needs a good clean, a systems update or appliances replacement
A good property manager knows that, in order to provide excellent service, they have to create a great customer experience for you and your tenants. So, smooth communication is a skill that a self-respecting property manager needs in their toolkit.
You can expect a property manager that you can trust to have mastered:
- Keeping in touch with tenants, assessing their concerns and working with tenants to get issues properly resolved
- Working closely with tenants to diagnose a problem and ascertain if a repair is necessary
- Walking tenants through a problem that doesn’t need repair by giving them clear instructions and feedback
- Liaising effectively with tradespeople to get repairs completed promptly and at a reasonable price
- Following up with tradespeople and tenants to ensure work is done to a high standard
On top of impeccable negotiation and conflict resolution skills, you want your property manager to have the confidence to interact with tenants on your behalf and without your involvement.
So the less you get involved, the more you know your property manager is a keeper!
Step-by-step handling of maintenance requests
A good property manager has got the grit and confidence to manage the entire maintenance request/repair journey while keeping all parties as satisfied as possible.
When a tenant contacts the property manager to request maintenance and repairs, the actions steps that follow are usually:
- Problem diagnosis and troubleshooting techniques to assess the problem and it’s severity
- Assessing how urgent the repair is
- Liaising with tradespeople for the right experience and cost
- Assigning repair to the best tradie
- Ensuring the request is completed in a timely manner (24 hours should be the goal)
- Following up with tenants and tradies during and after repair request is completed
Let’s illustrate these steps with a case study.
When Nina returns home from work Monday, she notices that the pool gate at the back is broken and wide open. She’s pretty concerned because she has a two year old and now that it’s summer, the little one spends a lot of time out back playing.
She wastes no time and calls the agent, Mr. Sayed. She explains to him that the pool lock is broken, and since she’s on the phone to him, tells him that one of the wardrobe drawers in the bedroom has collapsed.
After discussing with Nina the state of the pool gate, Mr. Sayed determines that the pool gate is pretty urgent. It is a major safety risk and a compliance issue, so he designates it as urgent. It will need to be resolved within the next 24 hours.
As to the collapsed drawer, he ascertains from Nina that the drawer has been in that condition for a couple of months and determines it is not as urgent.
Getting quotes and assigning the repair
Mr. Sayed gets on the phone to tradies he trusts. With the pool gate, he doesn’t have much time to shop around, so he prioritises safety over cost.
By the time Nina has called Mr. Sayed, it is already out of hours. So he finds the best tradie available on Tuesday for the best possible price and assigns the pool gate repair, informing the technician that it’s urgent.
As for the wardrobe drawer, Mr. Sayed interacts with all the tradies in his network that can make the repair. It takes a couple of days of negotiations, and by Thursday, he has the request assigned.
Mr. Sayed gets a call from the pool security system on Tuesday afternoon, telling him the maintenance is complete, and the system is secure and working well. Mr. Sayed thanks the tech and contacts Nina to make sure everything is in order.
Nina assures him the pool is secured and that she’s satisfied. He lets her know that her wardrobe drawer will be fixed by a tradesperson on Friday. On Friday evening, Mr. Sayed calls her again to make sure the drawer is sorted out.
Delays and resolution
Nina tells him that the tradie didn’t show up and that she’s not too happy. Mr Sayed explains that she’ll have to wait till next week as it’s now Friday evening.
Over the weekend, Mr. Sayed doubles his efforts to get another tradie to commit to sorting out the drawer. He finds one that can make it on Monday. Mrs. Sayed then arranges a time in consultation with Nina.
By Monday afternoon, Mr. Sayed calls Nina to learn that the drawer has now been fixed. She is satisfied that everything is in working order.
All parties are satisfied and the property owner didn’t hear about it. Mr. Sayed’s job is complete!
When your property manager is doing maintenance wrong
Now that we’ve covered the property management and maintenance duties of a property manager, what are the signs that your property manager’s maintenance work is subpar?
Here are some property manager red flags relating to property maintenance:
- communication between the property and other parties is poor
- you have to get involved to handle misunderstandings between PM and tenants or tradespeople
- You have to consult lawyers and law firms to resolve disputes with tenants
- Jobs take too long or don’t get done at all
- you lose a tenant due to a bad experience with your property manager
- maintenance isn’t just costing 50% of your rental income, it’s costing an arm and a leg
If you’ve found yourself in any of these situations, chances are your property manager is doing a poor job of maintenance. So, it may be time to move on.
The property manager responsibilities listed here are a good reference point for what you should expect from your property manager when it comes to maintenance and handling repairs. If you think you’re not getting the best service for your property, have a read of our guide on how to pick a new property manager.
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