Choosing the Right Property Manager: Key Questions You Should Ask


Do not just choose the cheapest or first person you talk to. Conducting a thoughtful interview better positions you to evaluate abilities and fit. Delve into qualifications, fees/contract terms, service capabilities, communication approach, and company culture across these key areas:

  • Background and Know-How
  • Scope of Services
  • Communication/Availability
  • Pricing and Contracts

Carefully examining credentials, procedures, and policies during the selection process reduces headaches by determining competency and compatibility upfront instead of dealing with a realization of mismatch months into a management contract.

Understanding Their Experience and Qualifications

A property manager’s capability is directly tied to years of managing rentals and professional development, signaling mastery. Target those meeting licensing requirements with past performance indicating reliability.

Years of Experience:

In the property management business, experience translates to expertise. Ask outright how long they actively oversaw residential units day-to-day. Look for 5+ years of verifiably running comparable property types to yours at volume. Recent entrants may need more nuanced know-how despite enthusiasm. Seasoned veterans detect subtle warning signs, navigate legal complexities, and resolve the unexpected with aplomb.

Licensing and Certifications:

Many states require passing an exam to obtain a property management license, which demonstrates a core understanding. Voluntary designations like the Certified Property Manager (CPM) or Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) confirm investment in best practice education and standards. Validate any credentials claimed.


Ask for and check 2-3 references from clients with units like yours. Probe satisfaction across the core performance metrics you care about – for some, that is minimizing vacancies, while maximizing rental rates matters more for others.

Areas of Specialization:

Suppose your rental caters to students or luxury spaces that differ substantially from average housing. Work. Work with specialists versed in those unique niche demands rather than generalists. This optimizes marketing approaches and property customizations catering to the target tenant profile.

Delving into Services Offered

Drill down exactly how the manager handles essential rental operations day-to-day. The processes in place greatly impact net returns and investor stress levels.

Screening Process:

Rigorously securing quality tenants minimizes risks like missed payments and property damage. Ask how they assess applications, including vetting credit, background checks, prior landlord verifications, and income confirmation. Make sure the measures align with your occupancy goals.

Marketing and Advertising Strategies:

Understand their playbook for attracting suitable tenants quickly. What advertising channels and budgets fit your property? How often do they conduct open houses? You want a manager actively networking with agents to fill vacancies faster.

Rent Collection Process:

Ask how and when they address late payments to limit lost income. Confirm a specific timeline, adhering to statutory notice and documentation protocols, and ready to pursue formal evictions wherever necessary. You need reliable systems to ensure rent gets to your bank account.

Maintenance and Repair Services:

Do they tackle routine maintenance in-house? What is the work order process and expected response rate if emergent issues like backed-up plumbing arise? Make sure reasonably handy personnel have the capacity to address problems without extreme delays waiting on vendors.

Financial Reporting and Accounting:

Transparency into revenue/expenses helps you evaluate asset performance and tax readiness. Discuss what level of documentation they supply surrounding collected income, expenses paid, and reserve account reconciliations. Frequent detailed updates signal organized oversight.

Communication Style and Availability:

Ask the manager’s preferred way and cadence of connecting with owners.


Additionally, probe protocol handling after-hours tenant crises should pipe bursts or lockouts happen at midnight. Knowing policies prevents quandaries when inevitable surprises arise.

Understanding Fees and Management Style

Drilling into compensation models and operating philosophies further exposes compatibility, allowing an informed manager to be selected.

Management Fee Structure:

Typical agreements entitle managers to the monthly percentage of collected rents, often ranging from 8-12%. However, sometimes extra one-time charges apply for lease signing bonuses or à la carte fees on maintenance items tack on costs. Compare all-in offerings.

Minimum Lease Term:

Many mandate one-year minimum contracts, allowing little flexibility for swapping should mismatches emerge. Weigh options permitting month-to-month terms or shorter 6-month commitments, ensuring adequate trial periods for assessing paradigms.

Management Style:

Property managers use a hands-on or hands-off approach. An engaged manager actively works to maximize rental rates and cater to tenants. A hands-off manager outsources to contractors and involves owners less frequently. Clarify expectations upfront appropriately.

Essential Questions to Ask a Property Manager

When drafting questions to ask a property manager, print this checklist for easy reference when interviewing promising management candidates:

Experience and Qualifications

  • How many years have you actively managed residential rentals day-to-day?
  • What relevant professional designations or certifications do you carry?
  • Do you specialize in any rental property types like corporate housing?

Management Services Offered

  • Walk me through your tenant screening process and measures evaluating applications.
  • When and how do you address late rent payments and pursue evictions if necessary?
  • What is the typical response rate when tenants report property maintenance issues?
  • How often and in what format do you send financial statements to owners?


  • What is your preferred way for owners to contact you? Phone, Text, Email?
  • How quickly do you respond to after-hours emergencies raised by tenants?


  • Please explain your full fee structure, including any ancillary charges for items like lease signing bonuses or maintenance markups.
  • Can you accommodate shorter minimum contract terms if requested?

Pro Tip: Ask for 2-3 references from current clients to cross-check satisfaction. Specifically, probe their responsiveness in handling recent tenant difficulties.

Additional Considerations for a Well-Rounded Interview

Rounding out due diligence before officially signing a management agreement requires asking about a few additional logistics.

Insurance Requirements:

Determine if the manager carries Errors and Omissions coverage plus general liability policies to protect your asset against financial mismanagement or injury liabilities. You will need to see proof of current certificates.

Technology Integration:

Technology can streamline communication, maintenance requests, and rent collection. Ask what software tools they use to manage properties, report to owners, track work orders, or enable online rent payments.


Advanced platforms better position responsiveness, meeting modern tenant expectations.

Success Rate with Evictions:

Sometimes, pursuing tenant evictions becomes unavoidable despite careful applicant vetting upfront. Discuss their historical experience navigating formal unlawful detainer filings, quickly clearing nonpaying residents from units while limiting lost income bleeding. Ask for stats or examples.


Choosing rental property management constitutes a true partnership built on transparency, competency, and shared priorities around optimizing asset performance. Asking insightful questions across the critical categories discussed here simplifies identifying best-fit managers ready to excel in overseeing your investment for maximum rewards. What matters most when outsourcing day-to-day oversight on your specific rental? Consider that when evaluating experience claims, operating processes, and overall compatibility.



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