Handling maintenance and repairs can be one of the most time-consuming parts of property ownership. Not only is there the actual work of fixing the unit itself, there is also the logistics of contracting the maintenance person and coordinating schedules with the resident and other affected individuals.
If you are currently self-managing your properties and looking to reduce some of this workload so you have more time to dedicate to other value-add activities, hiring a property management company can relieve this burden.
Unless you are working with an a la carte arrangement where the management company is only doing the leasing, for example, the vast majority of management companies are going to take on repairs and maintenance as part of the work they do.
What to Expect When Working with a Property Management Company
For those who have never worked with a management company to handle maintenance before, one of the first things you need to understand is that by the very nature of this relationship, you as the owner are going to be relinquishing some control.
Quite frankly, this is not for everyone. If you’re the type of person who wants to have your finger on the pulse of every dollar being spent at your rental property, you’re probably not going to enjoy hiring a property management company to take care of repairs and maintenance. Chances are high that the company is not going to do everything the same way you would have done it, and this can be a source of frustration.
For this reason and others, it’s important to be on the same page with your management company when it comes to your philosophy and general approach to real estate investing – and specifically what that means for maintenance and repairs. For more on that topic, be sure to read this blog post.
How Does the Management Company Handle Repairs and Maintenance?
There are a lot of different ways a property management company can handle repairs and maintenance.
One thing to ask before hiring is if they have an in-house maintenance team. This means the company has direct employees who are able to go out and deal with maintenance requests as they happen. The advantage here is that you are usually going to get more efficiency and typically better value from on-staff, W-2 employees who are familiar with the property and can batch tasks at nearby properties.
Moreover, in-house arrangements can be beneficial because the staff are able to handle a range of requests including small electrical and basic plumbing problems, rather than paying full-rate plumber expenses just to fix a toilet.
In addition to in-house staff (if the company has them), every management company is also going to work with several vendors. As a property owner looking to partner with a management company, it’s important to have a good understanding of how that process works.
Is the company only working with third-party vendors that are licensed, bonded and insured? Is there a markup on the third-party work the management company handles? And how does the management company decide what work is going to go to their internal maintenance team and what work will be outsourced to their third-party vendors and contractors?
Maintenance is by the far the largest expense category of rental ownership and there is a lot to consider. Take your time getting comfortable with the arrangement at the property management company you’re interested in working with and don’t hesitate to ask questions.