As the owner of a short-term rental property, you know firsthand what’s involved in managing it. Hiring a company for the management of your vacation home should empower you to rent with ease and earn the highest profit possible. However, if you don’t have the right team in place, minor repairs become massive headaches and you’ll find yourself constantly writing checks for administrative fees, new linens, and toiletries for your guests.
Before you renew a long-term contract with your current property manager, take a minute to think through the pros and cons of your partnership.
- Are you guaranteed a certain rental income?
- Do they offer world-class marketing services and dynamic booking rates?
- Does one comprehensive fee cover all marketing, booking, guest services, maintenance, and housekeeping?
- Do they file your rental-related taxes for you?
If not, it may be time to consider changing property managers.
Signs that it’s time to hire a new property manager
Breaking up isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. The investment you’ve made in your short-term rental deserves top treatment, and when your current property manager isn’t pulling through, it’s likely time to try something new. But how do you know when to start researching new companies that can keep your home in pristine condition and make you more money? The following are telltale signs that should push you toward making a move:
- You receive an invoice for new light bulbs one month and shampoo the next
- You’re having trouble keeping your rental consistently occupied
- You have to market your home, book it, and communicate with guests
- You’re responsible for filing the taxes and obtaining necessary permits for your property’s rentals
With so many different types of companies (full-service and a la carte), it can be difficult to know what your property manager should be providing. Realtor.com suggests that the property management company you hire should be determining your rent, marketing your home, screening your guests, providing protection from lawsuits, taking care of emergency repairs, tracking expenses, giving you appropriate tax documents, and doing house visits. If your current property management situation is missing any of these key benefits, start looking for a company that can make your life as a vacation homeowner stress-free.
How to deal with a bad property management company
While making the phone call to part ways with your property management company may be intimidating, it’s worth the few minutes of sweaty palms. You, your home, and your guests deserve the best possible service, and it’s about time you experience just that.
Before you make your call, be sure you’ve written down the reasons the partnership is no longer working for you. Being able to cite examples of what’s gone wrong will help guide your conversation. Hopefully, you’re not working with a company that requires a long-term contract, but if you are, thoroughly review the contract you signed. Note any part of it that the property manager hasn’t adhered to.
Ultimately, if you are in a spot to switch companies, do so as respectfully as possible. According to the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), there is a code of ethics that must be followed. If you feel your property management company is breaking the code, you have the right to file an ethics complaint.
How to find a better property manager
The whole purpose of hiring a company to manage your property is to save you time and ensure your investment is making you a healthy profit. After all, you didn’t buy a vacation home to take on a second job. Finding the right property manager is critical to a successful short-term rental experience. As you search, look for a company that takes care of every detail you can imagine and offers you the option to cancel at any time..
Atlas Vacation Homes, for example, is a full-service property management company that has a unique approach to managing short-term rentals. Our full-service management includes everything Realtor.com suggested above, plus a long list of other tasks to make renting easy and make you more money. We never ask you to sign a long-term contract, either.
As you do your research, be sure you completely understand each company’s fee structure. While the initial fee might seem reasonable, you don’t want to end up getting nickel and dimed for things like photography and virtual tours of your home, inspections, and credit card fees from rentals.
Ask about what housekeeping and maintenance services are actually included and what will cost you extra. For example, will the company do your yard work and fill your propane tanks, or will you be billed separately for these chores?
Know what you’re getting into before signing any agreement with a new property manager. All inclusions and exclusions should be easy to find. Work with a company that is upfront and honest about how they will serve you and your home. Ideally, you’ll want to find a company that is an experienced leader in the industry and also has a local presence in your area. Checking reviews from current and past customers is also a great way to help you choose the right property manager.
Property manager interview questions
To be sure you’re going with the best property management company for your short-term rental, ask these questions during your screening process:
- What upfront, monthly, and other “hidden” fees (booking channel fee, management fee, credit card fee, etc.) do you charge?
- Can you guarantee I’ll make more money on my vacation home than I did last year?
- Do you charge for house visits?
- Do I have to sign a long-term contract?
- What is your marketing strategy for my short-term rental?
- Do you have any owner usage restrictions?