Know the law like the back of your hand
Start with the Residential Tenancies Act, then read the lease and continue to educate yourself from there. Make sure that you know the rights and obligations of both the tenant and the owner well enough to recite it at 4am after being woken from a sound sleep. It’s critical to have a firm grasp of this, otherwise how else can you hold either party accountable? A great property manager is a bit like a referee: they keep things fair and the game running smoothly. If they do a good job they are not noticed.
Ask for help
You are going to get asked questions to which you don’t know the answer. Lean on those more experienced than you and ask for their input. Your client will be happy to hold or have you call them back. Answers to questions should be shared, which is a great way for everyone in the office to sharpen their skills.
Develop a system
If your office already has a system, plug into it. If you are starting a business or department and there is no system yet, develop one. You need to outline the process with a flow chart and then have a written checklist of steps to follow, with a procedure showing how to do each task. You also need to have templates for every document you will need for yourself, tenants and landlords and they should be setup to merge details with the records in your system.
Not only does it keep you organised, it also allows you the luxury of telling those who are paying late that you “have to follow procedures that are set in place”. It also helps to establish a single way of doing things about the office and to then get feedback from everyone on how to improve it.
Educate all clients and tenants
Both landlords and tenants should know exactly what is expected of them and exactly what you will do for them. Make sure they know about all the procedures you set up in the system you developed.
Tenants should be informed of procedures such as executing the lease, move in, protocol for repairs, what to expect on a routine inspection and what to do when they vacate. We prevent a lot of issues from occurring by setting these expectations at the sign-up meeting, giving them a handbook that aligns them all and then reminding them about what is relevant as we come to it.
Manage your time efficiently
Try to set up an 'ideal week' in which you have allotted time for arrears, maintenance, lease renewals, rent reviews and other duties. If you do certain tasks on certain days and have specific times of the day for returning phone calls and emails, it can make you much more efficient. We know that it won’t always go perfectly, but a routine will help you and your clients in the long run.
Record or copy every discussion that you have with every landlord, tenant, tradie or strata manager in your property management system. If it’s a phone call, make sure you confirm any important points in writing with an email or letter. This can protect you later and save you a lot of hassle.
Develop and evolve
Take as many training courses as you can to help you in your profession. Whether it’s individual development or learning more about the field, everything you learn is an asset. Start collecting assets ASAP.
Find reliable tradies
Once you find reliable tradies to perform maintenance and repairs, your life will be a lot easier. Your office should have provided you with a tradies list and you need to have at least two reliable, well priced tradies for each area you manage. If the list is weak, take the time to test out new tradies.
Don’t get trapped
Make sure that you delegate tasks such as emergency maintenance so that you aren’t chained to your job 24/7. Take your weekends off and take occasional vacations. Otherwise, it is really easy to 'burn out'.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jarrad Mahon is an experienced and passionate property investor, real estate agency owner and the "go to" for Perth property investment insights and practical strategies wealth growth in today’s market.
Over the last seven years he has used his engineering background to build and refine WA’s most award-winning property management business with a unique investor mindset.
Jarrad thrives on helping hundreds of clients every year to get the best property returns while avoiding costly mistakes. He has learned by investing all around Australia and using a variety of value-adding strategies.
Jarrad has recently been named in the 'top 40 business owners and entrepreneurs in WA under the age of 40' and he is a regular contributor to a variety of property investment and industry magazines.