Renting from a Property Manager vs a DIY Landlord
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between renting from a property manager versus an individual, or ‘DIY’, landlord? It mostly depends on how you want to communicate or engage with them and what type of relationship you’d like to establish, but here are some key factors to consider when comparing the two:
PMC: Because property managers usually have many tenants they deal with, they usually keep their relationship with you professional and unemotional. This can be great if you’re the type that just wants to be left alone until you need something from them. Because they usually have systems in place and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), it can be difficult to get exceptions from them on late fees, or if you fall behind on your rent.
DIY: You can get more personal with a self-managing landlord, but this can be good or bad! Building a relationship with your landlord could be great, especially if you intend to stay in one property for a long time or fall behind on your rent and need time to catch up.
But ask yourself – do you really want to be friends with your landlord and have them prying into your personal life, or feeling like they can walk into your home any time they want? In these cases, the line between professional and personal can sometimes get blurred. So, in the interest of maintaining a healthy tenant-landlord relationship, it’s really important to set boundaries and keep to them.
PMC: Professional property management companies will likely have structured methods of communication with you and document these. This can sometimes get frustrating when you want a quick answer on something, but on the other hand, there should be consistency.
DIY: Many DIY landlords only use their personal cell phones for communication. Depending on their day job, they can be easy to get a hold of, or extremely difficult. They rarely document anything, which may or may not work out in your favor.
Rent Payment Options
PMC: Renting from a property manager offers you multiple ways to pay your rent, including online. Some charge additional fees if you want to use specific payment options, so make sure you understand all this.
DIY: Many individual landlords still pick up rent or only offer payment by mail. More and more DIY-ers are starting to use technology though, and offering online payment options. Usually the software they use charges tenants a fee though.
Speed of Response & Maintenance
PMC: A property manager who is dealing with several clients and properties might take some time to respond to your requests or concerns. The upside is that PMCs will usually have established SOPs (standard operating procedures) to ensure that tenants’ requests are dealt with consistently, although these standardized processes can sometimes take longer to complete, because they have to be done in a certain way and a particular order. PMCs also typically work with reputable service providers to help maintain the properties they manage, so you can have peace of mind that the work carried out will be high-quality.
DIY: Busy DIY landlords could be slower, but a landlord with just a few properties could be faster than a big PMC at responding to and handling maintenance issues. Some might argue that self-managing landlords, because they’re invested in the property, want to ensure that it’s properly maintained. But in many cases, DIY-ers don’t have time to make repairs, or try to do cheap repairs themselves instead of hiring professionals.
PMC: Renting from a property manager can give you standardized contracts or lease agreements, and chances are they’ll have well-defined clauses within the contract, so you won’t be left with any lingering questions when signing your lease. Of course, their leases are usually pretty long to cover as many possible potential issues as possible.
DIY: DIY landlords will most likely have more unique lease agreements with specific clauses, depending on their personal preferences. Make sure that you go over the fine print, so you don’t end up getting surprised by a clause you haven’t encountered in previous leases. Ask the landlord for clarification in writing if you have any questions, or if any of the clauses seem vague.
Ultimately, choosing to rent from a property manager or DIY landlords is a matter of preference. There are both good and bad DIY-ers and PMCs out there, and your experience as a tenant will depend more on whether or not you’ve got a good manager, rather than whether that manager is your landlord or a professional PM. So the most important thing is for you to do your due diligence before signing a lease agreement, regardless of which option you go for.
Image Courtesy of Karolina Gabrowska