When you’ve decided to invest in a Washington, D.C. rental property, you have a lot at stake. After all, you’ve probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on your property, and you want to be sure it’s kept in the best condition possible, so it retains its value and attracts high-quality tenants for years to come. For many landlords, the tasks that come with being a property owner can quickly become overwhelming, as your tenants will call at all hours of the night, have unexpected maintenance issues, and may encounter disputes with neighbors that require their intervention. For these reasons—and many others—it makes sense to hire a Washington, D.C. property manager to take care of the majority of the duties associated with rental property ownership.
But, how do you know you when you’ve found the right Washington, D.C. property manager? Like most things in life, you might feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack because you want someone who will care for your property as though it’s their very own. This is a difficult challenge, but it’s certainly not impossible. There are some great property management companies in the Washington, D.C. area, and Bay Property Management Group is proud to be at the top of the list. With this in mind, we have some tips to help you find a property manager that’s right for you:
1. Look for a Property Management Company with a Solid Reputation
A company’s reputation can be found in a lot of places, so it’s important to look into all the possible options to ensure you’re choosing a company that’s best for your unique needs. The following are some ideas that can help you get a grasp on the company’s true reputation:
- Number of years in business. While this isn’t the end-all, be-all it certainly does speak to a company’s reputation if they’ve been in business for several decades. While a brand-new company may be outstanding, it won’t have the reputation built up to reaffirm its reputation just yet. Sure, you can take a chance, but do you want to risk your property to a new company that doesn’t have years of exceptional reviews to back it up?
- Reviews. Speaking of reviews, be sure to check out the online reviews of your potential property management companies. Bear in mind that some people only post reviews when they have negative things to say, so you might need to read (and weed) through unnecessarily negative comments to come to a wholesome conclusion.
- Better Business Bureau. Companies that have a poor reputation won’t tout such a thing on their websites, but you can find evidence of misconduct on the Better Business Bureau‘s website. Do a quick search for your potential vendors and read any complaints. The BBB’s resolutions to complaints are typically posted, too, so you’ll be able to gain an overall insight into the situations that brought customers there in the first place. If a company has no record of BBB complaints, that’s all the more reason to pursue a relationship with it.
2. Investigate the Fees
In today’s world, hidden fees seem to run rampant. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. While you’re investigating fees, be sure to ask about the hidden treasures your potential property management firm may come across as they work with you.
At Bay Property Management Group, we don’t believe in hiding fees. Your costs are black-and-white, so you never have to worry about being invoiced for unexpected services. We only charge three fees:
- Monthly maintenance fees, which typically range from 5% to 8% of the collected rent, depending on the number of units you have with us, as well as the price of the property itself;
- One month’s rent to lease a vacant property, which pays for itself if you factor in the cost of advertising, networking, screening tenants, and abiding by legal obligations;
- Lease renewal fees. At Bay Property Management Group, we’re proud to tout some of the lowest lease renewal fees available at just $299 per renewal.
If you find a company that seems to beat these fees, make sure you investigate potential hidden fees that may hike your rates for things such as:
Rent Due versus Rent Collected
There’s a subtle difference in wording between these two terms, but the monetary difference can be substantial. If a property management company charges you based on a percentage of the amount of money your tenants owe you, you’ll need to pay your fees, regardless of whether or not your tenants pay their rent or when the property is vacant, and you have no money coming in.
Being charged based on rent collected is generally a more favorable clause, as you won’t be paying for services when you don’t have tenants or when your renters don’t pay their full monthly dues.
The wording can be tricky, so be on the lookout!
A La Carte Management Fees
A lot of property managers that offer a super low fee upfront will nickel-and-dime you for the use of their services. While you might come out ahead if you don’t use their services very often, you could also pay significantly more if you need frequent assistance. Of course, you don’t really know when you’ll need to evict someone, fix broken pipes, or advertise your vacant property when someone breaks their lease, so it can be pretty hard to budget for a la carte management fees.
If you’re not careful, you might not realize this hidden fee exists until it’s time to market your property to the next potential tenants. Some property management companies charge advertising fees, which might include prepping the place for showings, taking photos, and creating online and print media. While this isn’t an uncommon cost for property management companies to charge, reputable businesses will put it front and center, so you understand these costs before you sign. If it’s not readily apparent, dig into the contract to see if there’s a hidden fee associated with advertising.
3. Give Property Management Companies with a Full Suite of Services More Consideration
You might think you’re only interested in utilizing a Washington, D.C. property management firm, so your tenants have someone to call when they have maintenance requests in the middle of the night, but that would mean you’re still going to be the person who has to understand the laws relating to landlord-tenant relationships. What happens if a tenant sues you? Will you know what to do?
The truth is, the more services a property management company offers, the more protected you’ll be. At Bay Property Management Group, we provide a full suite of solutions for landlords, including:
- Tenant Screening
- Move In/ Move Out Reports
- 24/7 Maintenance
- Eviction and Lawsuit Services
- Rent Collection
- Lead Paint Compliance
- Rental Registration
- Monthly and Annual Financial Statements
If it sounds like you could use all of these services, it’s because you will! You won’t know how you lived without a full menu of property management services once you choose a company that has robust offerings.
Bay Property Management Group provides property management in D.C. Thanks to our expert team of property managers who cater to our clients and their tenants for a living, you can rest assured that you, your renters, and your property are in the best hands possible. Reach out to us to learn how we can help you realize your dreams of being a great landlord in Washington, D.C.!