What You Should Know About Rental Vs. Property Management

Rental-vs-Management_420x290-1.jpgRental management. Property management. It’s all the same thing, right? Wrong! If you own investment properties that you rent on a short-term basis, you need to know the difference between the two.
 
In Florida, the owner of any individual rental unit in a community is legally responsible for maintaining that unit. Rental management companies may contract with owners on a one-by-one basis or with the entire building or community to handle that work, along with marketing the unit for rent, collecting the rent and paying the owner. They may also provide concierge or front desk staff and regular housekeeping service for your tenants, like a hotel does.
 
Obviously, those are important factors in the return you get on your investment. But they don’t stop there!
 
Who maintains the landscaping? Cleans the pool? Paints the lobby and cleans its floors? All those items are common areas and are the responsibility of the entire association. Common areas also include any parking garages, sidewalks and the building façade. Owners all contribute to the cost of maintaining those and they absolutely matter to the price you can charge for your rental and how often you can rent it. It doesn’t matter if your unit is sparkling clean and perfect if the balconies are rusty, the pool is full of leaves and the lobby floor is always sandy. That’s where a professional property management company comes in.
 
Property management companies excel at caring for the common areas of a property and helping the association make sure it’s getting the most of its budget for those items and more. If the property management company is large enough, they also have access to vendors who will respond quickly in emergencies and put your property first. “If you’re sick, the general practitioner is only going to be able to diagnose so much. More often than not, you need to see a specialist,” says Don Alley, regional director at FirstService Residential. “We specialize in association management, not rentals. We’re who you need managing your property.”

What if your rental company offers property management services as well? That sounds like a dream come true, but it can quickly become a nightmare for individual owners and for the association as a whole. Why? Because rental companies are busy managing your rentals.
 
That’s a big job on its own, and it takes priority. When resources are limited, including time, your rental management company will understandably focus on what makes it – and you – the most money. They may delay needed maintenance to avoid interrupting rentals by closing units for minor balcony repairs, for example. That can lead to a bigger, more expensive problem or even a safety issue later.
 
A property management company, on the other hand, doesn’t handle rentals at all. They’re able to focus on the larger property needs of the building and association because that’s all they do. If your building does need a capital improvement or big maintenance project like replacing a sidewalk or resurfacing your pool, a professional property management company is perfectly positioned with the knowledge, experience and vendors to get the work done. Rental management companies rarely have that level of experience or depth of resources.
 
“There’s nothing we haven’t seen and handled,” says Danny Ellis, vice president at FirstService Residential. “We understand that rental management companies are focused on maximizing revenue for owners, and they should be. But when it comes to maintaining your property for the good of everyone’s rental, we’re the experts. There’s no situation we won’t be able to handle, which is especially important in communities where a majority of owners are not present. We provide the consistency, resources and reputation that give absentee owners peace of mind.”
 
As a property investor, you need rental management. A rental management company of any size is best positioned to help you maximize your investment by marketing your unit, checking tenants in and out and making sure your unit is maintained. But property management completes the picture, making sure the larger community is safe, maintained and as attractive as the individual units. Both sides of the equation need to balance for the greatest return on your investment.