Most renters looking for an apartment take into account three factors: location, cost, and amenities. An additional (and often overlooked) criteria that renters should consider when choosing an apartment is whether they are renting from a landlord or a property manager.
While the difference here may seem insignificant, it can have substantial impacts on your renting experience.
Like what, you ask? Read on and we’ll break down some of the key differences between renting from a landlord vs a property manager.
Landlord vs Property Manager
When it comes to finding the perfect rental home, most shoppers are more concerned with finding a home that meets all of their preferred criteria than they are in worrying about who they’re renting from. Plenty of natural light? A modern kitchen? In-unit laundry? All of these factors tend to be more important than deciding between a landlord and a property manager.
In fact, many renters may not even know the difference between the two. When talking about real estate in Panama, there are a few important distinctions between a landlord and a property manager.
For one, each typically deals with different types of properties. If you’re looking to rent a single-family home, chances are you’ll end up dealing with a landlord. A landlord who owns only one or a few rental properties is less likely to hire an outside property manager.
Property Managers, on the other hand, are more likely to work with larger multi-family buildings. If a building has more than six units, chances are that a property manager will be involved. This seems to be the tipping point at which hiring a property manager makes financial sense for property owners. While often all of these units will be in the same building, occasionally, a landlord may hire a property manager for a portfolio of different residential properties.
Additionally, property managers are also common in the case of absentee landlords. Any landlord who spends even part of the year living elsewhere will need to hire a property manager to oversee his or her rental properties.
Despite having different titles, both a landlord and a property manager have similar responsibilities. Both are responsible for all communication with tenants. This involves finding and screening tenants, signing lease agreements, ensuring that rent gets paid on time, and responding to tenant requests or concerns.
While a property manager is often thought of as being in charge of property maintenance and repairs, this responsibility falls on the landlord if a property manager is not involved. Depending on the arrangement, both of these individuals can also take responsibility for listing and showing vacant units.
Just because these two positions share the same responsibilities, does not make them the same in the eyes of a renter. There are plenty of instances where the debate of landlord vs property manager is not so evenly matched.
Point of Contact
There’s nothing worse than signing a lease for an apartment only to find that your landlord is impossible to get ahold of or ignores your requests. While there are plenty of great landlords out there, quality definitely varies.
There are reasons that landlords should want to take good care of their tenants. For one, landlords turn the most profit when their units are occupied and tenants are happy. There’s an incentive, then, for landlords to be courteous and responsive.
Unfortunately, though, sometimes when a landlord is the point of contact for a property, he or she can take things personally. Personality clashes or complaints about the property might lead a landlord to be less than professional or even unresponsive. This is a definite risk of renting an apartment directly from a landlord.
A property manager, on the other hand, will often handle situations more professionally. Since the property manager doesn’t own the unit, he or she can often be more objective and less emotional in communication regarding the property. For ineffective property managers, though, this can mean less investment in making sure that everything is perfect.
Maintenance and Repair Requests
Another key area where you’re likely to notice differences between landlords and property managers is with maintenance and repair requests. Have a dripping faucet? Suspect your stove is leaking gas? You want to know that whomever you call is going to get any issues taken care of right away.
Sometimes when dealing with a landlord, small issues could take days or weeks to be addressed. Many landlords will want to attempt to fix small issues themselves before paying a professional. This means that your landlord will need to find time to come by, which may not be a top priority. If he or she determines that the issue does require professional attention, this can add another day or two of waiting time.
Conversely, property management companies often have a more systematic means of dealing with maintenance or repair requests. If you’re working with a large property management company, you may even be able to submit a maintenance request online. Since property management companies manage a large number of units, they typically have a team of professionals on call who can take care of issues in a timely fashion.
Landlord vs. Property Manager Costs
Many renters have a misconception that renting with a property manager is going to cost much more. This can be the case but isn’t always true.
It’s important to note that tenants never directly pay extra for a property manager. Any fees that the property manager collects come directly from the landlord. That said, landlords who use property managers may charge higher rent in order to offset the additional cost. Consequently, you may be able to find a cheaper apartment if you look for units listed directly by a landlord.
Sometimes, though, property managers who work with a large number of units are more likely to offer a special deal. You may be able to get a free month’s rent or waive a security deposit if you sign a year-long lease. Landlords who are only renting a handful of units are less likely to offer such deals.
So in the toss up between landlord vs property manager, we say a property manager wins this one.
Should You Hire a Property Manager?
Given the above criteria, most tenants agree that renting from a property manager is ideal. Renters often find that they get better service and responsiveness from property managers, as dealing with tenants is their full-time job. This isn’t often the case with landlords.
As you can imagine, there are also plenty of benefits for landlords to hire a property manager. Even with only a handful of units, being a landlord can take a substantial amount of time and energy. Listing apartments, screening tenants, responding to maintenance requests, and even collecting rent can be a huge time suck.
With a property manager, however, all of these tasks are professionally managed for you, leaving you with more free time. While hiring a property manager will cut into your profits initially, many landlords find it a worthwhile investment. Not only does a property manager deal with any and all tenant issues, but he or she can often dedicate more time to ensure that your units are well maintained and occupied. Over the long run, then, a property manager can pay for himself.
In conclusion, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, your rental experience can be greatly enhanced by working with a property manager. It’s their job to make property rental hassle-free for everyone involved. If you’re in need of a high-quality and reliable property management company, reach out to Panama Equity and you’re sure to be in good hands.