Everyone in the property industry will have met (or been) a Property Manager (PM) at one point or another. Often, the title is taken for granted - there can be an unspoken assumption that everyone knows what they do and what is required of them day-to-day.
But does anyone who hasn’t actually been a Property Manager at some point really know the ins and outs? Is Property Management a Black Art shrouded in murkiness and mystery, or is it an exact science?
Types of Property Managers
Let’s start with the scope of a Property Manager’s role. It’s also important to remember that duties differ across different sectors. After all, a Property Manager looks after properties and the tenants within, and these vary widely in lettings, block management and build to rent (BTR). That said, the main principles of their responsibilities are largely similar. According to a guide by The Telegraph Jobs, property management is about maintaining a property’s financial budget, managing tenants, getting repairs and PPM (planned preventative maintenance )works done, and supervising general operations such as void management.
Key Skills Required of a Property Manager
The Property Manager is often the one link between several stakeholders. In the lettings, they connect landlords with tenants and contractors. In BTR, the Property Manager looks after residents who are renting from the operator. In leasehold blocks, the Property Manager acts as the link for the freeholder, leaseholders, residents (who may be themselves renting privately) and third-party suppliers. That’s a lot of people to be interacting with on a daily basis! Often they all want different things, too.
Tenants want fast responses and any issues fixed asap. Leaseholders might want value for the services they pay for. Landlords want maximum value from the property and as little void period as possible. Contractors are there to do a job and want to be in and out quickly with no messing around with invoices. A Property Manager’s to-do list is usually not far off infinite with tasks being added as quickly as they are ticked off.
- People skills: a PM must be able to act as an intermediary between multiple people, they must be astute and adept at handling difficult, often emotional, situations. For tenants, these are their homes or offices; for landlords, this is an extremely valuable asset, if not the most expensive purchase they have ever made.
How a PM navigates a tricky situation can often be the difference between a positive outcome ensuring customer retention and satisfaction, and a falling out resulting in loss of business and a tarnished reputation.
- Regulatory Know-how: Much of property management is bound by extensive and stringent regulation. Any PM worth their salt will know these laws and regulations inside out and can act in a compliant manner to ensure fair business practices are followed and safety is prioritised.
Main Responsibilities of a Property Manager
- Maintenance Management: Maintenance is one of the biggest aspects of being a PM. Once leases are agreed, much of the day to day management becomes about budget keeping. The main expenses and threats to any property management budget is maintenance. Obviously issues can happen at any time and for any number of reasons and when they do, you have upset tenants wanting for a fast resolution.
- Mediation: A Property Manager ends up in the middle of the tenant and landlord trying to resolve the problem as quickly as possible while simultaneously working to determine liability and engender a fair and compliant outcome for all parties involved.
A Property Manager will be drawing on both sides of their skillset in their job. On one hand, they will be working hard to manage the expectations of tenants and landlords - having to educate where necessary and often have difficult conversations along the way. On the other hand, they have rules and regulations that must be followed - both internal processes and legislation. There’s always a clearly defined way that things have to be done, so to a certain extent, they need to follow the formula and bring the issue through to completion.
What Makes a Great Property Manager?
A good PM’s value often lies on the ‘people’ side of things - it’s hard to learn or teach the soft skills that make the best PMs such good mediators and such assets to their businesses while rules and processes can be learnt and followed.
As with all things, it’s a question of balance. A truly excellent PM must have skills and knowledge from both sides and be able to call upon either, or both, in the right proportion at any given time after taking the circumstances into consideration.
A Property Manager’s Tools of the Trade
Apart from the skill sets outlined above, PMs need to be given the right tools to give their best work. Updating clunky systems, writing and logging email upon email, using stone-age tools such as pens, paper and whiteboards - these are all massive drains on a PM’s valuable time. With the right technologies, a PM can reduce their manual workload and flex their strategic muscle getting things sorted to the letter of the regulations while keeping their customers happy and satisfied. It’s about working on the business process, not in the process.
We are in the very fortunate position of having a plethora of fantastic technology available - much of it able to make a remarkable difference very quickly at a low cost.