Successful property management requires a great deal of market expertise and knowledge, effective communication and a proactive ‘above and beyond’ approach to satisfy both the landlord and tenant needs.

That’s why appointing a reputable property manager is a smart move for property investors. Particularly one that is local to your property and demonstrates the qualities that indicate your asset will be looked after.

Having a professional on your side that supports you with your investment strategy and has the knowledge to ‘handle it all for you’, makes the road to success a much smoother one.

But what happens when it isn’t so smooth and you’re ready to throw in the towel?

Sometimes when you’re dissatisfied with a property management agency, it can be easy to lose sight of your end goal because it all feels too hard. Who wants to go through the hassles of dealing with another dud property management company or property manager, right?

Many of us end up with a dud service because we didn’t do our research up front or because we didn’t know how to hold a bad service to account. While the thought of having to change property managers can create enormous headaches or fears for you, if you’re committed to your financial goals, then finding the right property manager to support you is a must.

As property management specialists that have been operating for the last 11 years, some of the best advice we can give you is: If you’re looking for an excellent property management company – what you really need to be looking for is a specialist that can help you create wealth through property.

A good property management agency understands the fundamentals of property investment – its role in creating financial security for you and their role of helping you build a portfolio, maximise cash flow (with quality tenants) and property growth for the long-term.

If you’ve found yourself in a position of looking at changing property managers or you’re thinking about throwing in the towel altogether because of a bad experience, we wanted to help give you some guidance on finding the right property manager and reassurance that changing isn’t a hard at all.

Communication Is Key

If a landlord has come over to us as result of leaving an agency they weren’t happy with, often it’s because the level of communication was basically non-existent. From the get-go, it’s crucial that your property manager be in regular contact to keep you updated on everything to do with rental payments through to maintenance issues.

If you’re in the process or know someone that is changing property managers, set your communication expectations up front. Better yet, when you’re researching and meeting with new agencies be sure to qualify how proactive they are at managing communications and risk minimisation by asking them to detail their internal processes and customer values.

A good property management agency and property manager will always be proactive with communication. Ideally, you’ll have one dedicated point of contact ensuring your line of communication is easy and you’ll develop a solid relationship with your agent that contacts you with solutions not problems.

Good culture = low turnover

The property management industry often has a high staff turnover which can be a source of frustration for landlords as their point of contact is always changing. If this is one of your reasons for changing property managers, then it’s important to identify why property managers leave an agency.

Some of the biggest reasons that cause a high turnover is a stressful office environment and managing too many properties. So, if you’re vetting a new property management agency try and get a feel for their working environment and internal culture. At Benchmark, we pride ourselves on our customer ethos and we believe that clients do not come first – employees come first.

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”

— Richard Branson

Whilst it can be difficult to evaluate staff culture when you aren’t working in it, some of the key areas you can assess are:

  • Customer reviews – if a property manager is going above and beyond this will often be a tell-tale sign that they love their job.
  • Is the agency transparent about how many properties they manage – if a property manager is stretched too thin they will suffer burn out and more importantly for you, they won’t have the time to be as thorough with your property.
  • As a property investor, you want a market expert that’s going to help you stay ahead of industry trends and changes. A good property management agency will ensure their staff are industry leaders through regular training and professional development.

Are you dealing with market experts?

Property market knowledge is a must for anyone who is going to be managing and taking care of your property portfolio. In order to help you with your investment strategy, you should be looking for a property management agency that provides you with market updates, growth movements e.g. new developments that will impact population growth in your suburb, cycles that impact rental yield and property value and tenant satisfaction and expectations relevant to your investment area.

In many cases, sophisticated property investors look at changing property managers because they lack the expertise required to provide investment advice and recommendations to landlords to help them navigate their rental market.

As highlighted above, look for an agency that sees the value in staying ahead of the market trends and fosters a culture of learning so that their property managers are upskilling. Such expertise includes, industry knowledge around legislations, vacancy minimising procedures, accounting best practices and local knowledge on new developments and population growth that will impact rental and sales demands.

Good maintenance

Good property maintenance is a given! Every landlord expects that their property manager will help them keep their property in great condition and retain good quality tenants. Conversely, many landlords will switch or leave their property managers because of poor maintenance that has left them out of pocket, increases vacancy rates and decreases property value.

If you’re in a similar position, here a few tips to help you screen and find the perfect property management agency that’s going to help you maintain your property and attract quality long-term tenants.

Find out as much detail as you can about their routine inspection process. If they have a good process they should be able to provide you with a checklist that includes the details and action items they carry out. It’s also important to find out how often they perform inspections – a proactive property manager will do this at least once a quarter so that they keep on top of property maintenance and prevent small issues turning into big problems.

Good property maintenance is a balance of meeting your needs and those of your tenant/s. As much as it’s about protecting your pockets from blow out expenses, it’s also about keeping your tenant/s happy with timely responses regarding maintenance issues.

At Benchmark, we have an online owner portal that gives tenants 24/7 access to their property information, including inspection reports. They can log in at any time and have visibility over their reports, up-to-date photos, follow-up action items, historical maintenance, jobs, contractor/supplier details and invoices. We also provide electronic copies of everything so that our landlords are completely across the management of their property.

The process of changing property managers

What you may not realise as a landlord, switching agencies is often as simple as giving notice – even if your property is still tenanted. If you’ve found a new property management agency, often they will handle the entire change on your behalf.

For example, here at Benchmark we handle the changeover from start to finish. From collecting all your documents and corresponding directly with your previous agent and tenants, we handle it all to ensure your tenants experience little disruption and the process is easy and comfortable for you. Clients that have come over to Benchmark really love being able to avoid the uncomfortable and sometimes awkward conversions with their previous agency and tenants.

Some important considerations before you change property managers:

Lock-In Contracts

Some property management contracts will lock you into an agreement for a set time period.

Whilst many agencies stipulate agreement locks in their contracts for the term of your tenants’ lease, in Australia, on a periodical agreement, the Lessor must give minimum 28 days’ notice to end the contract. If you are on a fixed term, the contract cannot be cancelled without written agreement between them and the agent unless it can be proven that the Agent did not fulfil their obligations.

Don’t risk lock-in contracts!

Hidden Costs

Sometimes agencies will charge a fee if landlords terminate early. Before you commit to the termination, make sure you check your contracts so that you’re prepared.

Remember that property investment is a long-term strategy so it’s important that you do your due diligence when on the hunt for a new property management agency to look after your asset. If you’re looking at changing your property managers or would like some guidance to help with your research, we’d love to help you! Simply go here for a no obligation chat with one of experienced property managers today.