Is it time to sack my investment property manager?

Five signs it’s time to let your property manager go

Investment property management is tough to do as a DIY buy-to-let landlord. The more investment properties you own in your portfolio, the more time-consuming it becomes. Reasons for using investment property managers include:

  • You value your own time
  • Professionals will do a better job of the day-to-day landlord responsibilities
  • You’ve bought in the best places to invest in property UK, and your properties are hundreds of miles away

Of course, investment property management must be paid for. Typically, property management fees range between 10% and 15% of rent collected. While this affects your bottom line, it’s a tax-deductible cost which provides a lot of benefits.

In this article, we bullet point the benefits an investment property manager brings to the table, and how you know when it’s time to sack your current property manager and find a new one.

What does an investment property manager do?

Your investment property manager should do all the following for you:

  • Find good tenants, and reference them
  • Write watertight tenancy agreements
  • Collect rent and pay you quickly
  • Offer you advice and support
  • Manage your property, arranging all maintenance and repairs
  • Advise on portfolios and strategy

Throughout, your property manager should be in constant communication with you.

Some property managers become complacent. They take your fees from the rent they collect and fail to do what that fee pays for. If this is happening to you, it’s time to switch investment property managers. But how do you know that you need to divorce from your current property manager?

5 signs it’s time to sack your property manager

1.      Lines of communication have broken down

You shouldn’t have to chase your property manager for news about your investment property. They should keep in touch regularly. They should reply to emails and phone calls promptly. If there are repair of maintenance issues reported to them, you should hear about them.

If the lines of communication have broken down, it’s probable that your property manager is no longer doing their job properly. Or they’ve taken on so many new clients that they have forgotten about you. They’ve ramped up their client list, but haven’t done the same with their capability to manage the growing number of properties.

2.      Property inspections aren’t carried out

Regular inspections are essential to ensure your property and tenant are in good order. They give the property manager the chance to review how your property is being treated. They allow the property manager to connect with the tenant and reiterate the terms of the tenancy agreement.

After a property inspection, you should receive a report which outlines any issues, and states any maintenance needed. If you have paid for a quarterly inspection and didn’t receive such a report – or the inspection report looks identical to the previous one – it’s likely that an inspection wasn’t made. You’ve been robbed. Worse, your property could be in a state of disrepair or being used as a party place, and you know nothing about it.

It’s often said that ‘no news is good news’. It isn’t the case with investment property. No news means your property isn’t being managed.

3.      You only get tenants from hell

Perhaps the most important task of a property manager is to find the best tenants. Applicants need to be vetted, backgrounds checked, and the tenancy agreement signed. The best investment property managers evict fewer than 1% of the tenants they find. If you constantly suffer from tenants who damage your property, don’t pay their rent on time, or cause neighbours unending amounts of aggravation, it’s time to change your property manager.

4.      Your tenants contact you direct

If your tenant has contacted you directly, you’ve got a big problem. It means they have gone out of their way to find out who you are and how to get in touch with you. There’s only one reason this happens: your property manager is ignoring your tenant. It could be that a repair is needed and hasn’t been done. The longer it is left, the more expensive it will be. And if your tenant is being ignored, there’s an increased chance that they will be looking to move elsewhere. On top of the repair that hasn’t been done, you now have an expensive void period with no rental income to pay the mortgage.

5.      You no longer receive a regular report

You should receive a monthly report of your buy-to-let income and expenses. It should detail:

  • Rent received and paid
  • Property management fees deducted
  • Maintenance costs
  • Other deductions made

If you haven’t received these, email the property manager and ask for them. If you still don’t receive them, it’s time to let go of your relationship.

How to break from your property manager

There are many reasons why your current property manager is underperforming. It could be that a new member of staff has been given your account and they aren’t up to speed with procedures. Perhaps a new property management system is being used, and it hasn’t been programmed correctly to send your property reports. They may have moved offices, and the problems you’re suffering are a temporary glitch.

Before you sack your property manager, give them one last chance. Discuss the issues with them, and agree on how they are going to get back on track. Perhaps they’ll become the property manager they once were. If they don’t, then it’s time to say goodbye.

For more tips about letting investment property, or if you need to find a new property manager for your existing portfolio, contact one of our team today on +44 (0)207 923 6100.

Live with passion

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Gladfish. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids.

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