You’ve just bought a new rental property. Now all you need to do is get the property ready, find a new tenant and start collecting rent, right? But how do you go about finding a good tenant? And what if something on the property breaks? Do you know what licenses you need in Washington, DC? Isn’t there someone who could help you do all these things?
Good news: There is someone to help.
A property management company takes care of the day-to-day tasks that come with maintaining a rental property. For landlords with full-time jobs or those living outside of the DC area, having a reliable property management company can be the eyes and ears on your property when you need to focus on professional or personal commitments.
But it’s much more than that. Here’s what a good property management company in Washington, DC can do for busy landlords.
Inspect and evaluate property
When you first sign on with a property management company, one of the first tasks to be done is an inspection, which will help evaluate the property. This is a crucial role for the company because it will familiarize them with your property, which types of tenants it will most likely attract and any repairs that need to be done before marketing the property.
Knowledgeable property management companies will be able to give advice on any upgrades that should be made to the property in order to attract good tenants. Managers know that money invested in a property could pay off later when tenants renew leases, and the property spends little time without a renter.
Once the inspection is done, the property manager will assess the current rental market and provide a rent price that will make the property competitive.
Find, screen and retain tenants
Perhaps the most valuable service a property management company can perform is the act of actually finding good renters for their properties. There’s a lot of competition for housing in Washington, DC, and renters look at more than just the rent. Property managers do a lot of marketing and screening to find tenants, and it’s not always easy.
Good managers know how to reach the types of tenants they want, and they’re familiar with social media and search marketing.
Once potential tenants express interest in a property, the manager handles showings, answers questions and begins the screening process. It’s not enough to simply review a tenant’s application. Property managers need to be proactive — that means calling references, confirming employment and looking for any red flags.
But the job doesn’t stop after the tenant moves in. Property managers need good communication skills to stay on top of maintenance requests and any problems the tenant might face with a property. Tenants appreciate having a responsive point of contact, and they might choose to renew their lease if they like the company.
Collect rent and handle evictions
When the rent is due, the property management company collects rent and issues lease renewals when the time comes. The company handles late-payment fees and answers any rent-related questions that the tenant might have.
A property manager is also the first line of defense when a renter stops paying rent or violates other lease agreements and needs to be evicted. This can be a messy task, so it’s important for the manager to track all communication and keep excellent records, detailing when payments stopped and notices were issued in compliance with the current tenant laws.
At Atlas Lane, our managers have been instrumental in negotiating move-outs with tenants who stop paying rent, and they’ve had success in getting back pay for landlords. Because we assign a specific manager to each property, our managers can usually help diffuse problems before an eviction is needed.
Keep financial and legal records clear
A good property management company in Washington, DC will have an excellent record-keeping history on your property, showing how much you collected in rent and how that money is spent in maintaining your property. More than that though, managers need to keep records of invoices paid for repairs and any other related tax documents, warranties or inspections. You never know when you might need to show documentation for tax or legal purposes, so having a property manager who keeps track of all financial and tax records can make life much easier for a landlord.
Housing laws in Washington, DC usually change or adjust every year or so, and keeping on top of those major and minor changes can be a headache for any landlord who doesn’t have a law degree. Property managers stay on top of these changes and help you if you stay informed or make changes if necessary.
Maintain and repair the property
A reliable property management company not only handles the big, unexpected repairs, but also the day-to-day maintenance around your property. Regular maintenance can keep repair costs down in the long run and make living in your property more pleasant for tenants.
Daily or monthly maintenance can include lawn mowing, snow shoveling and responding to tenant requests. Atlas Lane offers 24/7 home repairs, which means tenants can get help fast. Our home repair pros also work to educate tenants from Day 1 about the property and what they can do to maintain it. This approach helps tenants feel more invested in their new home, and landlords see better upkeep on their properties.
When a big repair does need to be done, the property manager will spring into action, communicating with the tenant, landlord and any professional that needs access to the property. The manager will handle purchasing any new appliances, lighting fixtures or other supplies needed, and they will hire the professionals needed to do the work — all while keeping track of invoices and communication between all parties.
Doing the work of managing a property in Washington, DC isn’t easy, even for the most experienced landlord. Rather than trying to handle everything yourself, a property management company will take the hard work out of your hands and allow you to focus on other important parts of your life.
Ready to sign up with a property management company in Washington, DC? Check out Atlas Lane and get started today.